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« Chasing King Felix's Changeup | Main | Where Are Wade Davis' K's? »

Dustin Ackley's High-Pitch Slugging

Along with Ichiro, Seattle second baseman Dustin Ackley starred in the first game that counts in 2012. Ackley ripped a fourth-inning solo homer off Brandon McCarthy and lined a go-ahead single off Andrew Carignan in the 11th as the Mariners topped the A's 3-1 at the Tokyo Dome.

That both hits from Ackley came on pitches high in the zone -- the go-ahead single was nearly at eye level -- shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Ackley performed well overall as a rookie, batting .273/.348/.417 with a 117 OPS+, but he was especially deadly against high stuff. Look at his in-play slugging percentage by pitch location in 2011:

Ackley's in-play slugging percentage by pitch location, 2011

The number two pick in the '09 drafted slugged .547 on pitches thrown up in the zone, 161 points above the MLB average last season. That high-pitch slugging placed him in the top 15 among all hitters:

Highest slugging percentage on high pitches, 2011

Pablo Sandoval .779
Mike Napoli .687
Troy Tulowitzki .675
David Ortiz .642
Josh Willingham .636
Dustin Pedroia .613
Adam Jones .592
Ben Zobrist .587
Carlos Gonzalez .586
Hunter Pence .585
J. J. Hardy .580
Ian Kinsler .577
Adrian Beltre .575
Carlos Beltran .548
Dustin Ackley .547


An Ichiro rebound is important for Seattle, but continued growth from Ackley (projected for a .261/.348/.410 line by ZiPS) and offseason pickup Jesus Montero (.257/.322/.438) will determine whether the M's finish last in runs scored in the AL for the fourth straight year in 2012. So far, so good for Ackley.

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