With a little help from Mariners media guru and new dad Jeff Evans we have this list of all of Dustin Ackley’s at-bats versus left-handed pitching.
Obviously, the most impressive is yesterday’s homer against Jonny Venters.
Well coming into that at-bat, lefties were just 5-for-42 against Venters with no extra base hits. His mid 90s fastball has ridiculous movement. Now, he’s given up one. And lefties are still just hitting .133 against him with 19 strikeouts in 52 plate appearances this season.
Here’s Ackley talking about it.
But look at some of the other lefties, he’s gotten hits off of – there are some tough pitchers, who make life miserable for left-handed hitters.
The next most impressive hit is probably the double to left off of Randy Choate of the Marlins in the 10th inning on Sunday.
You are probably saying, “Who the hell is Randy Choate?”
He’s a lefty side-armer for the Marlins, who gives left-handers fits. This season lefties are hitting just .122 (5-for-41)against him with 18 strikeouts. And what does Ackley do? He lays off two cheap sliders away and works a 2-1 count and finds a sinker he could handle and goes the other way with it.
Speaking of the Marlins, Ackley also had a hit and drew a walk off of lefty Mike Dunn. Not quite a sidearmer like Choate, lefties are hitting .185 (10-for-54) with 21 strikeouts against Dunn.
And oh there were also the two hits off of George Sherill. The former Mariner doesn’t have ridiculous stuff. But he is a lefty specialist, who hides the ball and uses deception to go with a decent fastball to get outs. Lefties are hitting Sherrill somewhat better this season (.356) , but he does have 17 strikeouts in 45 at-bats. For Sherrill’s lengthy career, lefties hit just .184 (95-for-517).
Look at Ackley stay in on this breaking ball against Sherrill.
So should we be surprised by Ackley’s success against lefties? Maybe a little, the left on left matchup is tough. There was some thought from people that hitting against lefties was one of his weaknesses. Hmm, kind of like his defense was supposedly a weakness?
If you watched the guy enough in Triple A, you would know it’s not necessarily the case.
He’s never looked really bad against lefties. Believe me, you can see it immediately when a lefty hitter struggles against lefty pitching. The approach, the swings and the way the ball is hit tell you right away.
You didn’t see that from Ackley. In fact, he hit lefties pretty well with the Rainiers before being called up. He was hitting .304 against right-handers, and was hitting .299 (23-for-77) with a .415 OBP and .545 slugging percentage with eight doubles, a triple and three homers before being called up.
Obviously, the lefty pitching is tougher at the big league level. But Ackley has shown that if you have a good approach, understand the strike zone and find hittable pitches and not try to do too much with them, you can have success against them.
And since I like seeing Ackley go from first to third. Here’s his first hit against a lefty this season.