Starting today, every Sunday we will spotlight a current or former Seattle athlete (professional or college) that is performing well recently or did something significant in the past.
Our first spotlight is on Mariners’ outfielder Dustin Ackley, who has been one of the most consistent and better hitters in the lineup for over a month. After struggling through most of May and June – he batted .221 and .165, respectively – Ackley had a fantastic month of July, batting .365 with an OPS of .892. He is also having a great start to the month of August. Through three games Dustin has an average of .444 (after going 0 for 4 today) and an OPS of 1.333. For those of you who don’t understand numbers, the dude is killing it.
Ackley was picked 2nd overall by Seattle in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of North Carolina, where he played with current Mariners’ third-baseman, Kyle Seager. While Seager has gone on to become an All-Star-caliber player, Ackley has largely been a disappointment since his impressive rookie campaign in 2011 when he batted .273 after his June call-up. He has had a difficult time finding his role in the M’s lineup. A first-baseman in college, Ackley moved to second base upon his arrival in Seattle. However, the M’s managed to sign perennial-superstar Robinson Cano this offseason, leaving Ackley the odd-man out at second. Eventually landing in the outfield, Dustin’s numbers had been less than impressive for the majority of the year. By June 30th, he was batting a meager .218 and there were talks about him being dealt before the trade deadline.
But then something clicked. Whether it was motivation of the possibility of losing his starting role or an adjustment with his approach at the plate, Ackley has finally been performing up to his hype over the past month-plus.
If Dustin continues to hit well expect the Mariners to reap the benefits over the final two months of the season. With the addition of Austin Jackson, the M’s now have a 1-2 punch at the top of the order ahead of Cano. Yes, the Seattle lineup is struggling to score runs. And even if they do, it’s inconsistent. But we’ve seen the offense score six runs twice in the past four games, and much of that is due to Ackley’s hot hitting. With the way the starting rotation has performed, that kind of offense will win a lot of games.
If the M’s hope to secure that coveted 2nd-wildcard spot, they will need Ackley’s bat to stay hot. So cheers to Dustin Ackley, we’re gonna need ya, buddy! His defense ain’t too shabby either.