Pack your bag and say goodbye to your buddy, you're going to the show.
Photo Credit: Angel_Blue
Riots broke out in Vancouver, Brandon Funston exploded in his pants, the Pacific Northwest is a buzz and for good reason. The Seattle Mariners have called up their prized prospect Dustin Ackley. The coachable, young talent doesn't have much left to prove in the minors. It's time for Ackley to do what Adam Moore and Jeff Clement couldn't; come up and hit at SAFECO. We're discussing Ackley's potential production for 2011, the excellent opportunity to Buy Low on Aaron Hill and Alcides Escobar's emerging bat in a Middle Infielder packed rendition of MLB Real Talk. The jump awaits.
Dustin Ackley was hitting .297 with 9 HR and 6 SB in Tacoma (263 AB) prior to his promotion. The Mariners No. 2 overall pick from the 2009 draft didn't have much left to prove in AAA, evident by his 16.8% BB% and 14.4% K% (54 BB, 38 K). His triple slash line (.297/.415/.487) is respectable for a middle infielder. Those are great numbers for a MI, but this is the Pacific Coast League we're talking about. Leaving Tacoma for Seattle is a guaranteed drain on power numbers. He's leaving behind a ballpark that scores a 100 in HR for LHB and heading to the spacious confines of SAFECO Field, which scores a 94 in HR for Left Handed Batters. SAFECO is tougher on RHB (84) than Lefties. These numbers can be found at Stat Corner.
So we have a Second Baseman who has the ability to make plenty of contact, a great eye at the plate, moderate power and some speed. He's likely more Middle Infielder than starting Second Baseman in fantasy baseball leagues. I'd rather play Aaron Hill, Howie Kendrick, Kelly Johnson or a healthy Allen Craig at Second Base over Ackley. I see no reason why Ackley can't outproduce Gordon Beckham though, if that's an accomplishment. MLBDepthCharts does have Ackley batting in the No. 2 slot, his OBP should play well there. The official Dustin Ackley projection calls for a .275 AVG, 46 Runs, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 6 SB line in 320 At Bats.
Aaron Hill was a strong bounce back candidate entering the 2011 draft season. The Blue Jays Second Baseman hit .205 last season because of his miserable LD% (10.6%) and BABIP (.196). Most would say his disgusting batting average was the result of bad luck, but his troubles were self induced. He wasn't making good contact. This season our bounce back candidate is hitting a paltry .247, not exactly what we were hoping for. This, however, is definitely the result of bad luck. Hill is back to lacing Line Drives, his 20.5% LD% is pretty good (2% higher than his career average). His BABIP is still down though (.272). It should be 30 points higher. Also, Hill hasn't had much luck with his HR/FB%. Only 2 of his 75 Fly Balls have cleared the fence. Normally he'd have at least seven Home Runs. Hill did hit 36 HR in '09 and 26 HR in '10. The Second Baseman is doing a lot of things right: he isn't striking out much (13.4% K%), he's lacing Line Drives (20.5%) and now he's stealing bases. Through 49 games played he's already set a career high for stolen bases with eight. Once the baseball gods show Aaron some mercy he's going to be a valuable play at the two bag. He may not reach 20 HR because missed time to injury and the slow start, but I can see him finishing with a .280 AVG, 17 HR and 20 SB.
Alcides Escobar was a sleeper pick of mine that has slept through most of the season. The main reasons why I liked Alcides is his ability to make plenty of contact, put the ball on the ground, hit line drives and steal bases. A player can post a respectable Batting Average with these tools so I expected Escobar to vastly improve upon his .235 AVG from 2010. The Shortstop's .264 BABIP (from '10) should be considered cruel and unusual punishment for anyone who posts a 21.5% LD%. That's just mean. Right now Alcides is rocking that same .264 BABIP, this time with a 18% LD%. In the minor leagues Escobar was posting Line Drive percentages between 17% and 20% and rocking BABIP numbers between .330 and .369. Escobar clearly deserves better fortune with his balls in play. Lately the bat is coming around, he's pushing along an eight-game hit streak that includes five straight games with multiple hits. He's hit safely in 10 of his past 11 games. Alcides is on fire. He's improved upon his contact rates, his 11.8% K% is fantastic. With three straight games in which he's stolen a base, he's now up to 10 SB. I see no reason why Alcides can't hit for a .285 AVG going forward. The improved OBP should allow him more opportunities to steal bases. The power is basically nonexistent, but for deeper leagues the 14% owned Shortstop is worth a look for those who are deprived of speed and looking for a fix.
Andrew a co-founders of SoR, he's also tired and going to bed -peace out- @andrewakamds