Sucks for Guti, he was hitting the ball so well towards the end of this season...Terrible luck throughout from start to finish this season
While the Mariners as a team have little to win over the rest of the season, a couple rookies on the roster still have a chance to earn some hardware. Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda are completely different players with very distinct season arcs, but both are frontrunners for the American League Rookie of the Year award. Despite not being called up until mid-June, Ackley might have the more enticing resume of the two standout Mariner rookies. For now, I’ll focus on his case.
While Ackley will have to fend off several promising candidates in addition to Pineda, such as Jeremy Hellickson, Jordan Walden, Mark Trumbo, and Josh Reddick, five arguments tip the scale in Ackley’s direction for AL ROY.
1. Ackley leads all rookie positional players in WAR: Yes, even though he’s been a big leaguer for less than three months, Ackley is beating every regular player in WAR. With 2.8 wins above replacement, Ackley holds a sizable advantage over Trumbo (2.1) and only he, Reddick and Desmond Jennings are within a win of Ackley’s total. He’s also comfortably ahead of Walden (1.9) and Hellickson (1.5.) Pineda is the only rookie with a higher WAR than Ackley and even he will likely fall behind, as he will only make two more starts this season.
2. Ackley has provided more bang for the buck than any other leading candidate: This argument doesn’t work against Jennings (who has been an absolute freak since his promotion, though his limited time on the field all but assures he won’t win the award) but holds true against the other frontrunners. Assuming Ackley could sustain his current level of play over 162 games (and no, don’t assume this: this is merely for fun) he would be worth nearly seven wins above replacement. That’s not just rookie of the year material, that’s a borderline MVP candidate. He’s succeeded mostly because of his bat: He’s posted a wRC+ of 133 (compared to Trumbo’s 106 and Reddick’s 114) and a well balanced slash line of .298/.372/.468.
Simply put, when he’s been on the field, Ackley has been the toast of the rookie class.
3. Ackley plays a demanding position: The other leading position player candidates are a first basemen (Trumbo) and a corner outfielder (Reddick.) Other than DH, those are the two easiest places to find a good bat. Ackley on the other hand is a middle infielder, and despite what most of his minor league scouting reports said, has actually looked pretty good at second base. I haven’t found a report online that said his defense has looked poor, it looks good to my naked eye, and even UZR’s crazy small sample of data backs this up: according to the metric, he’s actually been 1.5 runs above average at the keystone this year.
4. Baseball Face: Dustin Ackley just looks like a ballplayer. Jeremy Hellickson acknowledges this, and and appears to want Ackley’s autograph.
5. Ackley has the greatest star potential: I realize that this is a dangerous argument. Taken to the extreme, this argument advocates a potential stud with all of fourteen games played over an under the radar player that played well in 140. However, when there are reasonable arguments for a number of candidates, I believe that the spirit of the award demands that it be given to the player with the best chance of becoming a star. This knocks off Trumbo (a pretty average first basemen) and Walden (who’s value is limited out of the bullpen.) I would also argue, that of the two stellar Mariner rookies, Ackley is likely to be the better player going forward. He’s an every day player (which makes him less likely to face durability issues,) and I believe that Pineda’s lack of a decent third pitch will prevent him from becoming an ace.
That leaves Hellickson. While Hellickson certainly is an excellent young pitcher, A: please re-read argument 4, and B: his peripherals (4.24 FIP and 4.51 xFIP) lag far behind his stellar ERA (2.90.) They should both be excellent players for years to come, but I’d argue that the value Ackley has provided exceeds Hellickson’s production to date.
Anyways, that’s my case for Ackley as AL ROY. What do you guys think?