The Seattle Mariners are winning baseball games right now on the strength of starting pitching and an effective bullpen. However on Tuesday night, the Texas Rangers shut out the Mariners in the second game of their four-game series, winning 5-0. Seattle’s offence made third-year Big Leaguer Robbie Ross Jr. look like a world-beater in his third career start. The left-hander worked almost effortlessly through 7.2 innings, allowing five hits while walking none.
The fact that Ross Jr. is left-handed brings about an interesting question. Why was Dustin Ackley omitted from Lloyd McClendon‘s starting lineup?
Heading into the matchup last night, the only position players for the Mariners batting over .250 with at least 35 ABs were Robinson Cano (.326), Ackley (.302) and Mike Zunino (.282). The old baseball adage tends to promote the idea that left-handed hitters do not hit as well against left-handed pitchers as they do right-handers.
This is not a rule, and reading between the lines to discover exceptions to the rules is what a manager is paid to do. All McClendon needs to do is look at the stats.
In his four-year pro career, Ackley’s career average versus left-handers is .252 with an OPS of .683. Compare those numbers to his efforts against right-handed pitchers, which are .245 and .670 respectively, and the results are noticeable. These are still not great numbers, but the Mariners invested a second overall draft pick for Ackley’s rights in 2009. The least the organization could do is start to give him and his gnarly beard plentiful opportunities at the plate to redeem a slow-starting career.
Furthermore, Ackley is slashing .412/.412/.647 in 17 ABs against lefties in 2014, compared to only .231/.286./.385 in 26 ABs versus righties. The numbers do not lie, and mustering only seven singles against Rangers’ pitching should trigger McClendon and his club to make a change.
Batting Ackley in the No. 2 hole in front of Cano would be beneficial for the team in the short term, if not long term also. For Mariners players with at least 35 ABs registered on the season, Ackley ranks second in OBP behind only Cano. His .333 mark would provide Cano with some much-needed RBI opportunities.
Ackley is slugging .488, second only to Zunino at .590. So not only is he is getting on base with solid production, Ackley is getting quite a few extra base hits, which will directly correlate to better RBI numbers for players following him in the lineup.