I think it’s safe to say by now that Dustin Ackley can be considered a draft bust. If he isn’t a bust yet, then he’s certainly approaching that status quickly. Drafted second overall in the 2009 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners, Ackley simply hasn’t lived up to the hype. At 25 years old, 2014 may be a put-up or shut-up year for Ackley.
In his three minor league seasons, Ackley proved to be a very good hitter. In 1,044 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A, he hit for a .290/.397/.443 triple-slash line. To go with his great on-base skills and above-average power, Ackley also showed the ability to limit his strikeouts. In his minor league career, he actually walked (149) more times than he struck out (131).
The Mariners promoted Ackley to the big leagues and he debuted on June 17, 2011 at age 23. His rookie season actually went quite well, he hit .273/.348/.417 with a 117 wRC+. He was above average defensively as well, leading to his career-high 2.9 fWAR.
That would be the end of Ackley’s success, unfortunately. The years of 2012 and 2013 have not been kind to the second baseman. In fact, the Mariners have decided to move Ackley to centerfield now that Robinson Cano is in the fold.
In 2012, Ackley hit .226/.294/.328 with a 75 wRC+. Last season, he was slightly better, with a .253/.319/.341 triple-slash line with a 84 wRC+. He still was below-average, but it was progress I suppose. The Mariners are clearly trying to win now with the acquisitions of Cano and Corey Hart, so Ackley needs to start producing. The year of 2014 definitely feels like a make-or-break year for Ackley. If he doesn’t produce, he may not be around in 2015.