Ackley or Strasburg?

Two years ago, the top two picks in the June draft were pretty obvious – Stephen Strasburg was going to go #1 and Dustin Ackley was going to go #2. Strasburg was the best pitching prospect in the draft’s history, while Ackley had comfortably settled in as the low-risk college position player option. Because of the enormous difference in perceived potential, there was no real question that the Nationals would take Strasburg #1, even with the greater chance of risk associated with drafting a pitcher. I made the case for Ackley at the time, but even I admitted that, given the #1 pick, I’d take Strasburg too.

Now, though, a lot has changed. Strasburg had a remarkable ascent and debut in the big leagues, but then also had to go under the knife and has spent the last year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Ackley, meanwhile, had some pedestrian numbers in the minor leagues, took longer to get to the show, but has made a pretty nifty little splash since he got there.

In fact, I thought it might be interesting to point out that Ackley’s performance in the big leagues is roughly comparable to what Strasburg did in his time in the Majors before his arm gave out. Strasburg made 12 starts for the Nationals last summer, throwing 68 innings in those dozen appearances. The number of innings essentially represented about 1/3 of a full-season, as the Nationals would not have let him rack up more than the 204 innings that would project out to over 36 starts. In that 1/3 of a season, Strasburg was worth +2.6 WAR, or a +7.8 WAR full-season pace.

Since arriving in the big leagues in mid-June, Ackley has racked up 150 plate appearances in 37 games, about as close to a 1/4 mark of a full-season as you’ll get. He’s shown far more power than expected and has handled himself pretty well at second base; his .311/.373/.556 line has been worth +1.9 WAR so far. Multiply that out to a full-season, and he’s on pace for +7.6 WAR, basically an identically valuable season to Strasburg’s debut pace.

Of course, what made Strasburg’s debut so remarkable wasn’t his results but how he got them, throwing 100 MPH fastballs with ease and breaking off sick 90+ MPH breaking balls and changeups. He was a pitching freak, doing things with his right arm that we had never seen before. Ackley, on the other hand, is still a slender guy who barely looks like a Major Leaguer, and he’s producing his value through doubles, triples, and a lack of strikeouts. It’s not nearly as sexy, and he simply isn’t the kind of must-see-TV that Strasburg was last summer.

Still, though, whether it’s as physically impressive or not, it should at least be noted that Ackley has essentially matched Strasburg in terms of production during their first summer in the big leagues. The argument for Strasburg over Ackley was always that there was an enormous difference in potential upside, and that the gulf in reward made up for the expected differences in risk as well. When Strasburg dominated the league last summer, it was seen as confirmation of his ridiculous talents. I’m guessing that what Ackley is doing now is seen as more of a small-sample fluke, a hot streak that he just won’t keep up. The difference is the lingering power of perception.

Strasburg has great talent, Ackley has low risk, and if Mr. Low Risk happens to match Mr. Big Talent in performance, well, it won’t last. But, perhaps when considering which one we’d rather have going forward, we should at least consider that when put to the test against big league opposition, there hasn’t been much of a difference between the two in terms of production. Perhaps we underestimated the upside of Mr. Low Risk.

Given where we are now, with Strasburg headed out for a rehab assignment soon and likely to be back on the hill in a month or so, I’m curious about who you’d rather have in your organization. I just ranked Strasburg #26 in the Trade Value series, while Ackley didn’t appear anywhere on the list, so my perception is that most people will still strongly prefer the elite arm and take the extra risk associated. Given how well Ackley is performing, and how much more likely he is to stay healthy long term, though, I wonder if that’s the right call.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

149 Responses to “Ackley or Strasburg?”

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  1. Bill says:

    I’d like to see the list of players who put up 1.9 WAR in a quarter season. I know it’s a little different when it’s the beginning of a guy’s career, but I don’t think it’s that exclusive of a club.

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    • balagast says:

      Doesn’t Francoeur do that like every year.

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      • chri521 says:

        I’d say Fukudome does that too, 1/4 year players club except it pains me to see Frenchy actually sustaining it this year….

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    • joshcohen says:

      i agree…this screams small sample size. let’s be impressed by the debuts of strasburg, ackley, heyward, carlos santana, etc but let’s not get too carried away with projecting their career WAR from 60 innings or 135 ABs.

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      • Small Sample Goodness says:

        It’s a good thing no one projected their career WAR’s then isn’t it?

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      • joshcohen says:

        dave is questioning the conventional wisdom of drafting strasburg ahead of ackley in no small part based on WAR accumulated in 1/3 of a major league season. he’s implicitly appealing to potential WAR totals for career, or less broadly, for the period of team control. no?

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  2. Yirmiyahu says:

    Ackley’s peripherals are solid across the board… low K rate, good BB rate, reasonable BABIP, normal HR/FB, high LD%, good GB/FB, excellent plate discipline numbers.

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  3. Because of the obvious volatility of pitchers, I go with Ackley. Strasburg’s peak WAR is undoubtedly higher, but Ackley is a middle infielder with potential to be a consistent 5-6 WAR player. Combine that with the likelihood of Strasburg suffering an injury at any time, and I say Ackley is the better pick for the future.

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    • Especially if Ackley’s walk rate goes up. If he can be even 11-12% (he was 16% in the minors this year) he will be a great top of the order hitter.

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    • JimNYC says:

      Ackley’s upside is Robinson Cano with a few more walks. Strasbourg’s upside is Walter Johnson.

      Sorry, but there’s really no comparison, risk or no risk.

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      • John C. says:

        Which position is easier to fill – middle infielder or true #1 starter?


        I’d be shocked if there was a single GM in MLB that (if cost is taken out of the equation *glances at Pittsburgh*) would take Ackley over Strasburg. WAR is a useful tool, but it is not the perfect measure of value to a team.

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      • Ray says:

        There is undoubtedly a huge difference in their 90th percentile projections, which is pretty much what you just cited. These don’t factor in risk though. Ackley’s 10th-20th percentile projections still put him at a league average or better middle infielder, while Strasburg’s put him in Mark Prior territory, a hugely talented pitcher who can’t stay on the field.

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      • Hank says:

        I’m also a bit surprised that it is now a given that Ackley sticks at 2B.

        I’ve only seen a few games… at time it looks like he might be an average 2B, at others he looks poor. If he does have to go to LF, his value starts shrinking.

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      • Small Sample Goodness says:

        Ackley showing the capability of playing an acceptable 2nd, after such a short amount of time being, suggests that it shouldn’t be too surprising.

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    • williams .482 says:

      I agree with this. While upside wise it is not close (8 WAR pitchers are almost impossible to find), they are also much, much riskier. I will take the “low upside” 5-6 win 2B.

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    • North Sider says:

      Because of the obvious volatility of pitchers, I go with Strasburg.
      Pitching rules MLB! I can’t ever imagine, all things being equal, of picking a top 2B over a top SP.

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  4. chri521 says:

    Hi Dave hope you are doing well and best wishes to you!

    Strasburg has been called a generational arm and in terms of pure talent and success rates of TJ surgery, I would have to think he’s much more valuable than Ackley.

    Ackley plays a high-attrition position (as fangraphs has neatly researched I think) and there is no sure thing he sticks at that slot. His counting stats / value is buoyed because he plays a premiere talent-thin position. Even in the era of pitching and offense becomes more valuable, I don’t see Ackley being more valuable than Strasburg, especially if he moves into the OF long term.

    In all I don’t think the sample size is there for either player to project a full-season of WAR (adjustment period, etc.) but the “eye test” certainly favors Strasburg’s utter dominance when he was healthy.

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    • balagast says:

      I agree with you IF Ackley cannot stay at 2B. If he has to move to a less premium position his value definitely takes a significant nose dive.

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  5. VZtaxes says:

    Appreciate you being able to check in. Miss ya Dave. Get well.

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  6. bonestock94 says:

    I have to go for the higher ceiling here, Strasburg. TJ doesn’t scare me.

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  7. bill says:

    Dustin Ackley = Chase Utley Jr.?

    Maybe he’s not the fielder Utley is, but similar looking stat lines for the start of their career, and Ackley is even younger.

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  8. test says:

    It may be the case that pitchers manage to come back from TJ surgery more often now, but I can’t see how an injured pitcher is worth more than a healthy player. There’s a long line of guys who threw 100mph, but not many of them made it to the “consistent all-star” level, especially as a starter. Verlander must give teams hope, but it seems logical that if pitching a baseball 100 times is tough on an arm, then doing it at 100mph is even tougher. There’s always a few guys who can sit at top velocities for a long time (R. Johnson, Ryan, Clemens), but good luck guessing who it will be in advance.

    Taking the year 2004 at random, the fastest average fastballs – Harden, Oswalt (awesome, Ilove learning things like this – I had no idea Oswalt threw that hard), Sabathia, Johnson, Schmidt, Escobar, Bonderman, Sheets, Perez. There’s some serious risk there, and greatness upside.

    Rookie WARs from 2004- Lew Ford, Khalili Greene, Bobby Crosby, Wright, Werth, Rios, Charles Thomas, David Newhan, Bay, that gets you down to about 2 WAR, and that’s a lot of terrible. Better hitters are down the rookie list, and these aren’t going to be comparable lists anyway given how I picked them. But on second thought, I’d rather have an elite fastball guy than a good rookie position player.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      There’s a long line of guys who threw 100mph,

      There is?

      Even conceding that point, Strasburg is a guy that throw 100mph, with a great breaking pitch and outstanding changeup. In terms of stuff, there’s probably 1-4 guys in history that compare.

      Now, the health issue is a valid one.

      But, there is a short line of guys that throw 100, and even a shorter list of guys that throw 100 with 3 plus pitches.

      Having a stud 2B is a huge advantage to a team. Great offensive production from a “defense-minded position”.

      Somebody already mentioned Chase Utley’s name, and I wish that kind of stuff would stop. [1] Ackley has 150 PA, [2] He’s going to play poorly at times, [3] he’s going to get hurt here and there, and all of that is going to affect his performance. If Ackley keeps up his current performance for the rest of the seasons, and multiple seasons in a row, then we can talk about Chase Utley.

      2B is not an easy position to stay healthy at.

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      • test says:

        The question for Strasburg, to me, is whether or not his pitches are still “plus” if he knocks 2-3mph off of them. Because with an average FB at 97 mph, his arm didn’t last, and most league leaders settle around the 94-95 mph level. I would guess that’s for a damn good reason – throwing any harder probably tears the arm up too much.

        Also, if you sit at 94 instead of 97, that gives you access to the changeup and the “reverse changeup” – a FB 6-7 mph harder. Has anyone done a study on the pitch FX data on fastballs significantly harder than a pitcher usually throws? Does anyone even do this enough to pick it up?

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      • Spartan 37 says:

        Verlander has been throwing 94-96 at the start of games this year and finishing games at higher speeds (97-100). He also will rev it up for an important situation. I’ve never seen a study done on this data before though.

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      • Andre says:

        Jarrod Washburn made a carer out of this when he was with the Angels. He wasn’t a flame thrower at all, but he would move his speeds on his fastball up and down constantly from mid 80s to low 90s. That was the primary way he got hitters out.

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      • DCN says:

        His pitches are still plus – I recall PitchFX showing great movement. Also his location (which is really the key for successful starters) is excellent.

        I do think when he builds up his endurance he could start to throw hard more regularly.

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  9. domingoes says:

    Since a quarter of a season isn’t much time I still think Strasburg’s less likely to come back to earth than Ackley, even after surgery. I know I’m biased by how amazing his debut LOOKED but I’m ok with that. On any account, if I was a GM I’d gladly take either without any regret for having to leave the other..

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  10. Dan says:

    Strasburg has one other quality that people might want to consider. When he is pitching, he will bring people into the ballpark.

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    • Trotter76 says:

      I wanted to see if anyone put this out there before I posted it. Strasburg is a draw, and if I’m drafting #1 I’ll take the guy who puts some butts in the seats. It’s a rare 2B that does that.

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      • gdc says:

        Gets more fans, sells more stuff, but also is getting paid more which balances that some.
        If the question was would you draft differently if you knew their short term future, you also know Ackley could not demand any record signing bonus even if he did go #1.

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      $/WAR is supposed to be about revenue generated per win (based on increased fan interest) Strasburg was a draw when the Nats were fifteen games below 0.500. You had to buy tickets to four games to get to see him once and still he had a huge fans in seats bump up.

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  11. Mr. wOBAto says:

    Not sure Ackley keeps this kind of pace up, but I still went with him for the simple reason that while Strasburg could easily return to the stratosphere as a pitcher he could just as easily end up with Kerry Wood or Mark Prior hanging out in a bullpen, or pitching in the indy league. Things like contact skills, baserunning, and plate discipline are skills that age well and can play at many positions.

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  12. Telo says:

    Ackley has been outstanding, but Strasburg could be the best player in baseball next year and no one would be remotely surprised. For me it’s Stras hands down, no questions asked. But hey, the consolation prize of Ackley is something special, no doubt about it.

    Hope you’re doing well, Dave.

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    • Nik says:

      Look at the pace Ackley is on, would you be that surprised if he is the best player in baseball next year? I would be surprised, but far from shocked.

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      • joker24 says:

        Yes, we can also look at his minor league stats and re-calculate his pace with more information.

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      • Mr. wOBAto says:

        Oh crap you mean Hanley and Holliday won’t continue to be top players in MLB

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      • DCN says:

        I will be very surprised if his sophomore effort beats out Tulo, Longoria, Zobrist, Zimmerman, Hanley, Votto, Bautista, Pedroia, Hamilton, Beltre, Gonzalez, Utley, Cabrera, and also every pitcher in baseball.

        I will be surprised if he is even the best second baseman in baseball next year, what with Pedroia, Zobrist if he can hold the spot down, Utley, Uggla if he can get back on track, Cano, I don’t know, Ian Kinsler? Lot of competition.

        I’ll be only mildly surprised if he’s not the best sophomore second baseman next year, because Espinosa is a better fielder and has had more experience (I would pick Ackley over Espinosa, though).

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  13. EnglishMariner says:

    I don’t have much to add to the debate other than what has been said. I’m just really pleased to see Dave posting – thanks for dropping by.

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  14. Mike says:

    This reminds me of the Mark Prior/Joe Mauer debte years ago. Prior’s peak was so high, but short lived, but I still think it was worth it because of the level of performance he produced.

    I’d take Strasburg because even if he flames out in a few years, I’d have an elite, (relatively) cost controlled pitcher. Ackley looks to be very good, but the Nationals have offense in other areas, and pitching is always a premium.

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    • Jason B says:

      “pitching is always a premium”

      I don’t disagree, but you can’t blame the Mariners if they start putting a premium on non-awful hitters, because they have been in VERY short supply up there for the past couple of years. Like, “historical ineptitude” short supply.

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  15. STEALTH says:

    If Ackley sticks at 2B, it’s a hazardous position. If he shifts back to the OF, he loses value. Strasburg had Tommy John, but other pitchers have come back strong after Tommy John, almost to the point where it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal anymore. Give it a year and a half, and the guy is almost better than when he went down in the first place. In a terrible offense like Seattle’s, Ackley is probably the bigger need. You need at least two solid bats in the 1-4 slots. But the Nats and most other teams have at least a couple good hitters, so Strasburg is my pick.

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  16. benjipants says:

    Does anyone know the success/bust %s for pitching prospects vs hitting prospects? I suppose a team like Boston this year (probably a bad example) shows how a team with a middling to bad FIP/xFIP can more than overcome the failings of their pitching. With that in mind, might it make more sense to bank on hitting prospects, and find pitchers where you can? If in fact the bust rate for pitchers is that much higher than hitters.

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  17. Eric Dykstra says:

    Maybe I’m just a biased Mariners fan, but I’d take Ackley over Strasburg. He look like a 4-6 win player for each of the next years under team control. Strasburg has too many red flags to take him over a guy that could be a perennial all-star 2B.

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    • Max says:

      I am also a biased Mariners fan, but I would take Strasburg. His upside is off the charts. Going to Safeco and watching Stephen Strasburg representing the Mariners would be quite the experience. I love Ackley and he’s been great, and I hope he continues to play well, but Strasburg has the potential to be one of the best ever. If Ackley’s power is sustainable, and he can approach 20 HR a year while maintaining his high batting and on-base numbers, while sticking at 2B… then it would probably be a toss-up. But as that is the best-case scenario that I can see, I still think I would go with Strasburg at this point in time. The reward far out-strips the risk in this case.

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      • Friend of Pedroia says:

        You’d seriously take MORE pitching over offense? You’ve already seen what great pitching + no offense does for your team.

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      • Streams of Whiskey says:

        @Friend of Pedroia

        A big bat can picked up in free agency pretty easily. Front line pitching? Not so much.

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      • Max says:

        Yes. I’m not going for positional needs here. With someone like Strasburg, the team would be more able and willing to spend on offensive guys (or even trade Pineda). But even with Ackley, the team is still offensively challenged. His upside is not such that we would be set, so we would still need to find some pitching AND offense in order to succeed.

        I am saying that Strasburg’s upside is too great to ignore here for the sake of specific team needs. Given the choice of having one of Strasburg or Ackley, and knowing that Zduriencik would then have to make further decisions based on how the team looks, I would rather have Strasburg.

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      • Abreutime says:

        Good luck convincing a big-time bat to play in Seattle.

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  18. Jesse says:

    The flaw in the logic here, in my op., is that there is no mention that pitcher performance stabilizes faster than hitter performance (in terms of projection), so Strasburg put up some amazing numbers in that context. Even though I fully expect Ackley to be the real deal, like another commenter mentioned Fukudome has had WAR samples like Ackley. He could easily take a step back before taking one forward.

    Don’t get me wrong, given the TJ and all I would take Ackley no question. I simply don’t agree that his performance has been as good as Strasburg’s was in terms of what to expect going forward, but now with TJ in the mix who can say what to expect from Stras so gotta go with Ackley.

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  19. CircleChange11 says:

    Another big factor in this question is WHEN the question is asked.

    In a scenario where Strasburg is hurt and not playing and Ackley is off to a great start, the poll results are going to be closer than usual.

    Ask this question when Strasburg returns and is dominating and the poll results will likely show a much bigger difference.

    We’re an ADD nation.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      That actually makes sense, and it has nothing to do with having ADD. Right now, there is uncertainty to how Strasburg is going to recover. Should he come back and pick up where he left off, that’s additional information we’d have to inform our decision.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        How much uncertainty is their really that Strasburg won’t come back fantastic following TJ?

        I was under the impression that TJ was now just a ho-hum surgery that pitchers get, including those that come back stronger than before.

        The real concern is whether Stras makes any mechanical corrections that won;t lead to a premature 2nd injury.

        But, Ackley plays 2B, and is just one wrong dive or takeout slide from having his future altered as well.

        I think timing is everything in polls, which why the most active NFL polls are on Monday. Strasburg right now is out of sight, out of mind, and still wins the poll.

        I guess I must be the only one that doesn’t view 150 PA of Ackley as being a consistent 5-6 WAR 2B, and treating that as if it’s a given … whereas Strasburg is an unknown. Seriously, what % doubt is there that he won’t come back dominant? 10%? 20%? 50%? What data is it based on?

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      • Kevin S. says:

        It’s been presented as ho-hum, but that’s really not the case. It’s recovery rate is high, somewhere in the 80-90% range, but that’s still not perfect. Further, just because one comes back from it doesn’t mean one comes back from it just as good. It takes a while to regain the command, and I’m pretty sure the added velocity is only a temporary effect (I can’t remember what the actual cause of it is at the moment). So there certainly is some uncertainty with Strasburg right now.

        That said, timing isn’t irrelevant, and I didn’t mean to imply that it is.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I agree Kevin.

        [1] When Strasburg is hurt and Ackley is doing well.
        [2] When both are doing well.
        [3] When Strasburg is doing well and Ackley is hurt.
        [4] When both are hurt.

        When you ask the question drastically affects the likely poll results.

        IMHO, Strasburg wins the poll easily in all situations except #1.

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      • dnc says:

        But that’s kind of the point, CircleChange. Stras, by nature of being a pitcher, is much more likely to BE hurt at any given time than Ackley is. 2B attrition is high for position players, but it’s nothing approaching that of pitching attrition.

        Of course people take Stras in every situation except #1. The problem is that is #1 a real possibility at any point in time.

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      • jorgath says:

        @CircleChange11: “How much uncertainty is their really that Strasburg won’t come back fantastic following TJ?”

        None, actually. He’s about to begin rehab assignment and has thrown fantastic already in sim games.

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  20. Phantom Stranger says:

    From a real scouting perspective, there is simply no comparison. Strasburg is one of the best pitching prospects in the history of baseball, who has already shown his stuff works at an elite level of performance in MLB play.

    While Ackley is putting up good hitting numbers now, come back to this question in two years. There just isn’t much precedent for a swing like Ackley’s to be a successful all-star for many years. Wait to see how pitchers around the league adjust to it once they have seen him enough.

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  21. Tommy Lasordas Pasta says:

    Great to see you posting Dave! Continued prayers for ya!

    I’d take Strasburg, because pitching is always at a premium, and you can generally get somebody serviceable to play 2B- I mean, he’s no great shakes, but Jamey Carroll isn’t chopped liver either. I’ll second the “put butts in seats” argument as well. Strasburg was definitely a draw both in the park and eyes on TV, even on SportsCenter, which heightens fan anticipation.

    I understand that flamethrowers have a tendency to blow up their arms, but TJ ain’t what it used to be, and it seems that there will always be another team willing to trade a prospect(s) for even an oft-injured high MPH guy.

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  22. Basil Ganglia says:

    If Ackley had a reputation as a massive power hitter, then produced the identical offensive numbers via power, people would be raving. Chicks (and sometimes geeks) dig the long ball.

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  23. Bill says:

    Not adding to the discussion at all, but it was great to see your name on the by line, Dave.

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  24. Xeifrank says:

    Ackley is doing well, but I think he heavily regresses from his .401 wOBA. Hard to say who’d I’d take right now, but that is 100% dependent on Strasburg’s health/recovery.

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  25. Greg says:

    Ackley’s power is not for real. He didn’t have this much power in college, and he didn’t have this much power in the minors, so I don’t think there’s any way he could keep this up. He’s also on pace for about 20 triples over a full season–there is no way in hell he would be able to keep that up. I still think he’s a ~4 win or slightly better player, but Strasburg might already be the best pitcher in baseball.

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    • Eric Dykstra says:

      Ackley had a HR every 12 ABs his last year in college. This year between AAA and the majors it’s a HR every 34 ABs (or one every 30 if you just take his MLB numbers). You think that’s not sustainable?

      No, he didn’t hit a ton of HRs his first year in the minors, but he didn’t do much of anything particularly well hitting-wise. He was focused on learning a new position. And power usually isn’t completely developed at his age, anyway. There’s still room for power improvement.

      Only 15 pitchers managed averaging 4 WAR over 2008-2010.
      Can Strasburg stay healthy enough to be one of the top 15 WAR pitchers over the next five years?
      I think Ackley averaging 4+ WAR over his team controlled years is much more likely.

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      • Kyle Boddy says:

        As I posted on Tango’s blog, this is an unreal bad/flawed/ignorant analysis of the facts. Here’s my reposting:

        “Your argument is so ridiculously flawed and biased it is laughable. Using your arguments:

        8 pitchers have reached 22 WAR from 2006-2010. How many 2b have reached that mark from 2006-2010? The answer: EXACTLY ONE. Chase Utley.

        “Ackley is good, for sure, but how sure are you that he can maintain a level over that period of time with batters like Utley? Utley? Utley? Utley?”

        This is beyond the fact that you probably can’t project Ackley to have a 4.4 WAR in 2012 with any level of confidence due to major regression toward the mean.

        Here’s a better question: How many 2b have done what Ackley has done, peripheral wise? Compare this to Strasburg.

        Dave’s post smacks of rampant homerism and flawed analysis.

        This is beyond madness to consider Ackley is anywhere close to the standard above replacement that Strasburg is.”

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      • Jack says:

        Kyle Boddy,
        By reducing the scope to second basemen you make your argument sound a lot better. There are 5 times as many starting pitchers as second basemen on each team. You also use arbitrary benchmarks like 22 WAR over a five year period to assist your point. Dave didn’t actually take a side in the article so I can’t see how he is guilty of homerism. You seem to be the homer.

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      • Kyle Boddy says:

        22 WAR over 5 years was HIS argument, not mine. So yes, his argument is indeed bad. Thanks for helping me out on that.

        As for comparing second basemen to each other, do you think the attrition rate is the same between positions on the diamond, or that it is insignificant? It is not.

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      • Jack says:

        Show me where it says anything about 22 WAR over 5 years before your post.

        Regardless of the attrition rates of second basemen (which are undoubtedly lower than pitchers) you still didn’t acknowledge my point which was that teams have less second basemen than pitchers. What if I were to try and prove my point by expanding the scope to not just second basemen but all position players, saying that there was 22 position players to reach 22 WAR from 2006-2010, therefore Ackley is the better choice? Would that not be a little misleading?

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  26. Go To War Miss Agnes says:

    Love articles like this…it’s fangraphs at its best. The title seems preposterous, but then you pause and realize you’re not really sure that your initial reaction is correct. I love thought exercises that pose a challenge to my way of thinking. Good stuff.

    Anyway, for me it really comes down to three things:

    1) Most importantly, can Ackley stick at second? Dave’s been quite vocal on numerous occasions that he thinks he can. Many scouts disagree. Thus far, he seems to be holding his own just fine. If he’s a LF, I think the argument is moot. If he sticks at 2B, it becomes much tougher. Although it should be mentioned, as an aside, that 2B tend to have rather short lifespans. Just not as short as pitchers.

    2) Sample size. This applies to both players obviously. But in Strasburg’s case, and Dave touches on this, nobody really minds because the performance matched the scouting reports and the expectations. For those couple months, he probably had the best stuff in baseball, so nobody seems uncomfortable with the fact that his numbers reflected that he was one of the best players in baseball. In Ackley’s case, the power is not in the scouting report. He’s got a .244 ISO right now. I think a lot of us are uncomfortable with that. As has been mentioned above, baseball is littered with guys who have put up sick 1/4 seasons, with peripherals to match, only to fall by the wayside. The common scouting explanation is that players (in this case, pitchers) adjust. They don’t know you as well when you first come up, but they’ll eventually find your weakness and exploit it. In Strasburg’s case, we’re not as concerned because, well, there really wasn’t much of a weakness. Hitters can stare at that stuff all day, they’re not getting used to anytime soon. The big assumption here, obviously, is that his stuff can return.

    3) Peak WAR. For me, this is too often overlooked (more by front offices than fangraphs). A 10-WAR season is not twice as good as two 5-WAR seasons. It’s much better. It’s a larger edge exponentially than the competition. Nobody else has 10 WAR players. The availability of 2-win, 3-win, 4-win, etc players does not decrease linearly. Those guys at the peak end are few and far between. On the rare chance you can get one, take it. Most people feel like Strasburg offers a better peak. I tend to agree.

    So, obviously from my tone, I took Strasburg. But it’s awfully close. I’m not totally comfortable with it until I see him pitch again. But I’m a sucker for outliers, and I just can’t help myself. Fun exercise though.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Love articles like this…it’s fangraphs at its best. The title seems preposterous, but then you pause and realize you’re not really sure that your initial reaction is correct.


      Once you get past the initial “duh” and “making of funny faces”, there really is more of a debate than one would recognize at first glance.

      I like articles such as these that ask a surprisingly tough question, versus just telling me something from the author’s perspective.

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    • joker24 says:

      “For those couple months, he probably had the best stuff in baseball”

      I really don’t think I’m being hyperbolic in saying that his stuff was the best that I have seen from anyone *ever*. He was throwing 2 mph harder than the hardest throwing starter in the league (with command), a curveball that was making everyone buckle their knees…..and then what separates him from the pack is that he then had a legit swing’n’miss changeup. He was Nolan Ryan with command and a changeup. Having the best stuff ever is the only way you can put up peripherals nearly on par with Prime Pedro as a first year pitcher.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Not just a “swing and miss” changeup, but TWO changeups! [1] One that moves away (tails) from LHBs and one that moves down vs. RHBs. That’s a key difference because a changeup from a RHP to a RHB tails right toward the barrel. To have such “feel” that you can use the same pitch to move in two different ways for different-handed batters is “pitching”, baby.

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  27. kris says:

    Stating the obvious, a lot of Strasburg’s value depends on his ability to pitch like he was before the TJ surgery. Hopefully he can still do that.

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  28. Dandy Salderson says:

    Funny post, intentional or not…

    Carlos Baerga or Cy Young? Ill take Cy Young, thanks.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      Chase Utley or Mark Prior? Two can play this game.

      I think at the very least, it says something about the general acceptance of focusing on upside over risk as a roster-building strategy. If nothing else, that’s interesting.

      +18 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • DCN says:

        Ray Durham or Grover Cleveland Alexander?

        Joe Morgan or Ben MacDonald?

        Billy Ripken or Christy Mathewson?

        Rogers Hornsby or Alan Benes?

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      • Dandy Salderson says:

        I think some sort of public acknowledgment is in order.

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  29. fantasystud1305 says:

    Good starters are abundant in today’s game while quality second baseman are limited. I’ll go with the healthy Ackley over a repaired Strasburg. Having said that, both would be fine with me.

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    • Will says:

      Last I checked, a team could have 5 starting pitchers but only one starting second baseman. So it’s only natural that good SPs are more abundant simply due to the fact that there are 5 times more of them.

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  30. astromets says:

    Can’t I just somehow get them both? Harvey and Valdespin in 2 years (without the injuries)?

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  31. KrakenEater says:

    I’d rather have Strasburg; if nothing else, due to drawing power. I don’t remember the exact attendance figures, but attendance increased MASSIVELY whenever he pitched. Probably some will go away over time as fans get used to him, but I still imagine a large boost in fans every time he appears. Ackley is great (and glad the Mariners have him), but I don’t think he’ll ever be able to draw in the crowds the away Strasburg is already (was already) doing.

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  32. what about says:

    Some posters have discussed whether Ackley can stay at second. Why can’t he move to CF after he loses range or can’t hack it anymore at the keystone? He was drafted to be a CF, I believe but the Mariners moved him to second base due to Franklin Gutierrez. But in six years, maybe Gutierrez will be gone?

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    • Max says:

      I was just thinking this. He’s a pretty quick guy right?

      Can someone give me a reason that this should be ruled out?

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      • DCN says:

        Wouldn’t rule it out, but playing CF on a Major League level takes a lot of instinct and judgment that not everybody has. It’s not just quickness.

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  33. SouthPawRyno says:

    We’ll have to see in a couple of years. I’ve always compared Strasburg to Mark Prior since before Washington selected him first overall. And if he continues to have injuries I think Ackley will become more valuable than Strasburg

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  34. CubsFan says:

    “Love articles like this…it’s fangraphs at its best. The title seems preposterous, but then you pause and realize you’re not really sure that your initial reaction is correct. I love thought exercises that pose a challenge to my way of thinking. Good stuff.”

    I couldn’t have said it better. Nice to see you posting Dave.

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  35. Friend of Pedroia says:

    For me, this is easy. I’ll take someone who will contribute every day, rather than a pitcher who could become the next Mark Prior.

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  36. bookbook says:

    I’m not sure how Ackley went from consensus #1 offensive pick in the nation to consensus decent prospect (B+, Brian Roberts without the defense, etc.) to guy OPSing .930 in his debut all within two years. Prospect evaluating is starting to feel about as efficient as the stock market.

    For some reason, the kid reminds me of Mike Mussina (maybe it’s the intensity in his eyes). I hold irrational faith that he can build on this start and exceed expectations.

    That said, I’d still draft Strasburg #1. Rendon would have been a definite #1 for me this year, but Strasburg’s crazy upside would have been impossible to resist in 2009.

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  37. LionoftheSenate says:

    Wow, Fan Graphs with nearly 40% choosing the 2nd baseman over the true #1. What a moronic group of people. Go to Yahoo or ESPN for your baseball, you are fired.

    -21 Vote -1 Vote +1

  38. Dustin says:

    I feel like people are really, really underselling the kind of player Ackley is. He’s one a free-swinging, white version of Yuniesky Betancourt. He’s a player with an elite eye for the strike zone, makes absurd amounts of contact, and seems to know the kind of pitch he wants to hit.

    He has gap power, and that plays in Safeco Field. Why are people so surprised by his performance? He knows the strike zone, makes consistent contact, and has gap power. Why are his stats so shocking? It’s not like he’s hitting 10 home runs to inflate his power numbers; he’s getting doubles and triples. He’s immensely talented, and yet he’s supposed to fall back down to pedestrian levels? This isn’t some Omar Infante talent we’re talking about; Ackley went 2nd overall. The dude can play.

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    • Int M's Fan says:

      Dude, dont even mention Yuni B and Ackley in the same sentence. Yuni = total garbage. Other than that good post.

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  39. adam smith says:

    has strasburg changed his arm action? if he has the same arm action and delivery, the comp will be Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. he got hurt for a reason. how are you going to pile innings onto that arm? how can anybody claim he will be able to throw 200 innings?….pure hope….the evidence states that he will break down. the equation should be Strasburg as a shutdown closer (at best) or an 8th inning guy–not a number 1.

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    • jorgath says:

      He has a little. He’s changed it a lot on the the changeup, some on the breaking stuff, and just enough on the fastball to maintain his ability to deceive with the changeup.

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    • Charlie Morton's Electric Stuff says:

      You’re absolutely right, and I am surprised no one brought up mechanics until now. Strasburg’s mechanics were an absolute trainwreck; his arm action in combination with ungodly velocities was what blew his elbow out. Chris O’Leary’s research on pitching mechanics is fantastic and he was out in front of the Strasburg case years ago. I personally thought Washington was in a terrible position back in ’09 because they pretty much had no choice but to draft a guy who I knew was going to break down. I hope for his and the Nats’ sake that he’s altered his delivery, but re-learning how to throw a baseball at age 23 is no small task. I have a strong hunch he’ll end up in the back end of the bullpen someday, a la Wood.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        His issue is that his arm action leads his PAS elbow to go toward first base. Another pitcher that has the same PAS arm action is “Jake Peavey”. While it’s not an inverted W, it’s a “horizontal W” and it appears to be “not a good thing”.

        He reduced the amount of that his elbows went above his shoulders (inverted W), but the PAS elbow toward 1B is still likely going to be an issue … but probably not something that is going to kill him every season.

        IMHO, that’s the problem with young guys like SS. He was pitching in showcase/national travel leagues as an early teen … and no one changed his mechanics because he was so damn dominant (likely the same issue with Wood). Probably the whole “if it ain;t broke …”. Now, that it’s ingrained, it might not be easy to fix. See Rich harden and 3 big mechanical flaws he has. But, but, but, he’s so athletic and when he’s healthy he’s dominant. Yeah, I know.

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      • JamesDaBear says:

        His usage was atrocious as well. The Nationals treated him very delicately in the minors, and then when he started filling up his home park, commenced abusing his arm. If the Nationals didn’t take a big dose of anti-stupid, he’ll end up just like Mark Prior.

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  40. Kyle Boddy says:

    My comments on Tango’s blog should cover it: The idea that Ackley has anywhere close to the upside that Strasburg does is beyond ridiculous. This post smacks of rampant homerism and completely flawed analysis.

    What of Ackley’s past numbers lead you to predict that he will be some outstanding talent? What has he done compared to his pool of players? Compare Strasburg’s talents to his peers.

    It’s mind boggling. This one is not close, not at all.

    -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dave Cameron says:

      Again, perhaps you should stop and consider something more than just upside in valuing players.

      Also, if someone’s best response to an argument is “you’re a biased homer”, they probably don’t have a leg to stand on.

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      • Kyle Boddy says:

        Since you conveniently neglected to actually focus on this part of my post:

        “What of Ackley’s past numbers lead you to predict that he will be some outstanding talent? What has he done compared to his pool of players? Compare Strasburg’s talents to his peers.”

        I’ll make it a little more easy to find.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CircleChange11 says:

      I’ll add my comments from TT’s to here … (Just because I put some numbers to it)

      The scary thing about that list is there is no “average” pitcher.[Referring to data showing the IP numbers for SP’s age 24 over their 7 years of team control].

      They either threw more than ~1000 IP or less than ~500 IP.

      So, they were basically boom or bust … which seems to be how feel about Strasburg. He’s either going to rule the world with an iron fist or be injured. He won’t be pitching poorly. So, realistically, he probably puts up 3 or 4 6-7 WAR seasons and misses 2 seasons with injury, with him earning 4-5 WAR during his partial seasons.

      To me, the Ackley projections need more scrutinity. I’ve been in this discussion at FG, and there Ackley is presumed to be the next Utley, as if it’s a done deal.

      Personally, I don;t think he’s going to have enough power to sustain the Cano, Pedroia, Kinsler, Utley type performance that he’s had in his 1st 150 PAs. I don’t think he’s going to have plus defense to compensate for those times when he’ll have bad BABIP luck.

      I stated that I thought he would be good for 3-3.5 WAR/y.

      So, over 7 years I have …

      Strasburg: 25-33 WAR
      Ackley: 21-25 WAR

      It’s close enough that, IMHO, the discussion is valid while noting the drastic difference in ability above peers.

      Really this is one of the most thought-inducing, problem-solving, critical-thinking questions asked. Once you get past the initial shock, and start looking at the numbers, it’s a damn good discussion.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CircleChange11 says:

        For fun, here are the 2B WAR leaders from 2004-2006 (last 7 seasons). Not all of them will be the first 7 years of their career, but close enough for me to be interested …

        [1] Chase Utley (46, 7 seasons — 6.6/y)
        [2] Brian Roberts (27, 7 seasons — 3.9/y)
        [3] Placido Polanco (25, 7 seasons — 3.6/y)
        [4] Alfonso Soriano (24) – No longer a 2B
        [5] Orlando Hudson (20, 7 seasons — 2.9/y)
        [6] Dan Uggla (20, 5 seasons — 4/y)
        [7] Robinson Cano (19, 6 seasons — 3.2/y)
        [8] Mark Ellis (18, 6 seasons — 3/y)
        [9] Ian Kinsler (17, 5 seasons — 3.4/y)
        [10] Luis Castillo (16, 7 seasons — 2.3/y)
        [Bonus] Kelly Johnson (16, 5 seasons — 3.2/y)

        It’s sort of amazing to me how valuable one can be at 3B putting up just an average of 3 WAR seasons for a good period of years.

        It’s not a total surprise given that 2B performance is a huge advantage for the powerhouse teams (I noticed that right off as a cardinal fan. I’ve seen too much of the Schumakers, Miles, Harts, Alicaeas, etc).

        I think giving Ackley 3-3.5 WAR/y is a compliment and a fair (perhaps too optimistic) estimate of his future performance. It’s basically placing him on par with Brian Roberts, who when healthy, is tremendously valuable and performs at an all-star level.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        err, leaders from 2004-2010 (7 seasons)

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    • Mark Falcone says:

      First of all, you’re a pompous twat. There we go, that’s all taken care of!

      Second of all, this is a practice in evaluating risk vs. reward. Clearly, your methods do not allow you to see eye to eye with others on this. That is a fault of your own, because there is a distinct possibility that pitchers, no matter how talented (and in this case, uber-talented), will break down. The possibility exists that a second baseman will do the same, but one with Ackley’s skillset and peripherals (which, by the way, helps shed light on the potential for sustained success – perhaps not of this magnitude, but since he’s been Pujols-esque in his first 150 PA’s, that’s not exactly an indictment) makes it far, far unlikelier.

      Would you take a 75% chance at $250,000, or a 35% chance at $8,000,000? That’s what this boils down to. All math points to the latter of the two options being the obvious choice – even with the added risk, the reward is so much greater that it inherently cancels it out and then some (and then some more) – but I doubt anyone could fault a single person for going with the safer route. I, for one, would do just that.

      And, for the record, I’m not suggesting it’s close to the same thing – it’s just a different way for your pompous ass to look at it.

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  41. monkey says:

    Even more at the lack of faith in Ackley.

    He’s clearly good enough at 2nd to stick, though he may never turn into a gold glove there, he’s also not going to embarass himself either.

    Strasburg got hurt almost immediately, and will very likely do so again, and again, and again all through his career, because of his delivery; which is effective, but SO HARD on his arm.
    There were plenty of scouts and GM’s who were on record saying that there is simply no way he’ll ever be able to keep throwing the way he does, and stay healthy.

    Also, I get that aces are hard to find, but IMO, so are legitimate hitting 2nd basemen, and taking all things mentioned in here into consideration, injury risk, pitcher vs. position player value, potential upside, cost vs. Production, etc…, I’d take Ackley and laugh all the way.

    I don’t think Strasburg will ever last throwing the way he does, his arm just won’t hold up
    Ackley, on the other hand, most likely will.

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  42. GM says:

    Obviously all we’ve seen from them is their talent and small sample sizes. Strasburg’s talent is off the charts, while Ackley’s is that of a solid, all-around MLB player. They both produced very well in their MLB time, while Strasburg dominated the minors and Ackley was merely solid there.

    MLB GM’s want to make the owner money. Fans make the team money, and Strasburg will bring fans to the game and sell merchandise…not so much for Ackley. The other thing that drives MLB GM’s is winning playoff games. We all know what wins playoff games and series…’s elite starting pitching.

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  43. monkey says:

    The M’s have elite starting pitching, and more on the way in the minors.
    And while team needs wasn’t a factor mentioned in the OP, several people have mentioned it in the responses.

    As far as team needs, there isn’t even a question, the M’s have two aces, Felix and Pineda, and no hitting other than Ackley who is quite literally carrying the team right now.

    If the argument is JUST who has the highest upside, (clearly Strasburg is) there is no argument…but it’s not.

    To turn the argument differently, if the argument was, which player is most likely going to be a consistent producer for a long time, or have the longest, (healthy), productive career, there would also be no argument.
    Ackley, hands down.

    So on the one hand, you have a guy with otherworldly talent, who IMO, and the opinion of a lot of scouts and GM’s will be fortunate to actually showcase that talent for more than five years, (due to high likelihood of injuries); and a guy who could VERY likely be a perrenial allstar for the next 10+ years who also plays everyday, rather than once every five.

    Just saying, those things ought to be taken into consideration as well.

    Personally, I just don’t see Strasburg ever fully realizing that insane potential; where I see it VERY likely that Ackley could fully realize his somewhat lesser potential.
    Of course, injuries can happen to anyone, anytime, but what Strtasburg does, (throwing a ball 100mph) plus his throwing motion, makes him FAR more likely to than Ackley.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      a guy who could VERY likely be a perrenial allstar for the next 10+ years who also plays everyday,

      I guess I’m not seeing Ackley as being a safe bet to be “that guy”.

      So, it is VERY likely that he becomes the next Utley, Pedroia, Cano, Kinsler, etc?

      I think a big assumption is that he sustains both his .250+ ISO and .333 BABIP. We’re talking Ryan Braun, matt Holliday, Miguel Cabrera type stuff now.

      I mean Ian Kinsler is having a 4.5 WAR season with a .2421 BABIP. I don;t ever see Ackley being able to do something like that, and I don;t see him trumping Cano, Pedroia … so I’m wondering how he’s going to be an All-Star candidate for the next X years (unless you were stating that he’ll be 5+ WAR candidate every year for the next 10 years).

      So, you’re basically saying that it is VERY likely that Ackley develops into a solid HoF’er (50+ WAR over 10 years would be an essential lock for election).

      Maybe I am not seeing Ackley for what he is, but I see more along the lines of a consistent 3-3.5 WAR annually .. rather than the All-Star level. More along the lines of Brandon Phillips with a better bat and lesser glove (but still all around really good).

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    • Oasis says:

      Name one scout or GM who said Strasburg would be constantly injured. That’s twice you’ve puked up that insane, stupid argument so now I have to call BS.

      Crackpot Internet bloggers with delusions of grandeur do not count ….

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  44. monkey says:

    You may be right, and I understand your scepticism/opinion. Disagree..but understand.

    Niether of us can prove we’re right,were guessing based on what we’ve seen, or looking at numbers.

    I will say this though, as an M’s fan, who closely followed his progress in the minors, without actually seeing him playu in person, I thought just exactly as you do.
    I assumed he would be at best, a solid #2 hitter in the lineup, average defender, and what you are now projecting, was even more than what I hoped for.
    Then I saw him play…
    I’ve watched the M’s for a lomng long time, I remeber well when Griffey, Edgar, A Rod etc…first came up to the bigs, and I have to say that, Ackley is a more polished rookie, with a better understanding of the strike zone than any of them were as rookies.
    Now that’s not saying he’ll be a better player down the road, or even as good, but it is saying that after watching his approach to the game, I had to radically readjust my expectations of him.

    Yeah, I really do think he has the ability to be an allstar the next ten+ years! Yeah I really do think he has the legitimate upside/chance of being a future HOFer.

    It’s been a long long time since I saw a player this polished, this aware of what he’s doing come up. I saw Joe Mauer the same way I’m seeing Ackley, in fact he reminds me quite a bit of Mauer. Plays a position known more for defense than offense, has a great understanding of the strikezone, has SOME not a ton of power, but is a linedrive/gap hitter, who makes solid contact and will knock out more than most people initially expected, and both looked so smooth and polished as rookies.

    I’m sure pitchers will adjust to him, but I’m equally sure, he will adjust to them, because his approach is SO good.

    As a rookie, he’s already the best hitter on the team, by a long way, and mostly, already looks like an established vet at the plate.

    So yeah, you may be right, I may be wrong, he may regress, but if I thought guys like Edgar, Griffey and A Rod were can’t miss studs the first year I saw them, then I’d say Ackley appears right now, at this moment, just as sure a thing as they did. As rookies…even moreso!

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      This is one of those situations where I’d be glad to be wrong. If he’s really a 5+ WAR/y player (and not a 3-3.5 WAR/y guy), then I’m happy for him.

      I’d rather him be great and me be wrong, then for me to be right and him to just be above average.

      What I tried to factor in are [1] he’s going to get bad luck on BABIP and/or HR/FB at some point, and [2] he’s likely going to get hurt sometime.

      So, saying he’s going to average 3-3.5 WAR/y, means he’s going to have some 5 WAR seasons, but also probably a 2 WAR season due to injury, bad luck, league adjustments, etc.

      To say that you can see him “averaging 5 WAR for 10 years” means that he’s got the talent to do that, and he might. But, there’s also going to be some obstacles, some down years, some bad luck, and otherwise things that are out of direct control/influence. If you are factoring in some down years, and some bad luck, and some injuries, then you’re likely counting on some ~7 WAR seasons to balance those out. I don;t see that, but if he does have some of those seasons, more power to him.

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    • Swfcdan says:

      Wow…as a guy who aquired Ack for Gardner earlier in the year in my keeper league, this thread is music to my ears!

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  45. monkey says:

    Again, I can’t say you’re wrong with any certainty, you may be right.

    Until seeing him in person, I certainly thought the same as you.
    After watching him in person (or on TV) since he’s been up, however, I’ve found myself constantly asking what the talking heads, experts, bloggerss etc…, who knocked parts of his game were on about?

    I remember how high on him they all were out of N.C., then in the minors it seemed to change and they lowered their expectations, and questioned the move to second.

    I’m of the belief that his numbers in the minors weren’t as high as they would have been, had he not been primarily focusing on learning second, (though I admit that may be just making an excuse, and I cannot prove that), but something other than plate discipline was at work!

    I’m beginning to think the talking heads just needed something controversial to write or talk about, because when I watch him play I don’t see ANY of the negatives, they were seeing, at least not to the degree they were worrying about it.

    IMOp, the scouts were probably unintentionally underselling him, or misunderstanding what they were looking at, because he isn’t a true power hitter.

    I think that over the years, homeruns have become the most overated part of a hitters game, and scouts have largely bought into that mindset, so when it comes to evaluating a guy like Ackley who isn’t the next Prince Fielder power wise, they knock him for it.
    I think that’s at least part of why people got somewhat down on him in the minors, they weren’t seeing big power numbers, and they’ve got it in their heads that without power numbers, they’re a lesser player.
    I disagree…always have.

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  46. Mike says:

    Would you guys take Ackley or Pedroia for the rest of their career?

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  47. ivan says:

    I’ll give a non-statistical view: I’m privileged to watch Ackley play every day. Somebody upthread opined that his upside was “Robinson Cano with more walks.” I think he’ll be far better than that.

    Ackley beats up the pitcher almost with every at-bat. With a greater sample size, I venture to guess that he will soon be among the leaders in pitches seen per PA. He won’t swing at balls even a half-inch off the plate. When they are called strikes, most of the time the tracer confirms that Ackley was right and the umpire was wrong. Inexact, I know, but with a value greater than zero, I think.

    I have seen him hit to all areas of the field with authority. When he has had more PAs, I am guessing that his scatter chart will show a more or less even distribution. If he has a weakness at the plate, I have not yet seen it.

    By next year they will be pitching around him. He will be an offensive force. His fielding has exceeded all expectations, and with Brendan Ryan next to him at SS, should get better. He looks more at home at 2B than many others who have played the position far longer.

    Better than Strasburg? Who cares? Keep your eyes on Ackley and watch what he does, and tell me you wish your team didn’t have half a dozen of him.

    Cheers to you, Dave, and thanks every day for being here.

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    • Swfcdan says:

      That’s great to hear about Ackley being an owner of him in a keeper league. Basically made my mind up for me now to sign him for the max 3 years at the end of season at 13 bucks!

      Only worry I guess is if he does get pitched around next year, lets hope the M’s bats like Smoak reignite (see what I did there), or they trade for a proper middle of the order masher.

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    • Aaron B. says:


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  48. Swfcdan says:

    Wow poll’s far closer than I expected.

    I own Ackley in a keeper and he’s had a very solid start, as he gets older and bulks up a bit he could develop 25-30HR power which would make him a very valuable MI. Would like to see him start running more though.

    Strasburg on the other hand though is a freak of nature. Someone with the ability to clearly be the no1 pitcher in baseball in his career has to still be taken first imo. Arm’s like his don’t grow in trees, heck he’s probably got the best arm ive ever seen.

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  49. DanSchatz says:

    My first thought was, damn, that’s a hell of tough choice, but my gut tells me everybody went with Strasburg. Then I looked at the results and felt a little better about my uncertainty.

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  50. Kyle Boddy says:

    On pace for 7.8 WAR, you say?

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  51. saint says:

    Good call, Dave. No homer bias in this one.

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  52. MC says:

    ha, this is a great time capsule

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  53. steveh603 says:

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

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  54. andys says:

    And this is why Dave Cameron should never be allowed to comment on anything remotely related to the Mariners.


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  55. Dandy Salderson says:

    Some days are cloudy and you just need a laugh. Thank god this post is always here to cheer me up.

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  56. Kyle Boddy says:

    good start to the 2013 season though

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    • Kyle Boddy says:

      I hate to pile on.

      Actually, that’s a lie, I don’t.

      But it should be noted that this was while Dave was delusional and in love with the Mariners FO because anyone had to be better than Bill Bavasi, ignoring the fact that the people who hired Bavasi and took forever to fire him also hired Jack Z and co.

      Anyway, this thread is always worth a few laughs.

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  57. Kellin says:

    Awful horrible thing to post and completly SSS, but….

    Strasburg – .277/.333/.426 wOBA/.332 WAR 0.6 in 53 PA
    Ackley – .226/.294/.328 wOBA/.274 WAR 1.1 in 668 PA

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  58. Carson Cyst-Stooly says:


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  59. Keystone Heavy says:

    This comment section is great. For the people in 2020, Mookie Betts is 2015’s Ackley. Is he an All-Star during your time? Would it have been smart for the Phillies to trade Cole Hamels straight up for him?

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  60. ProspectBeat says:

    Ackley still has upside

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