2012 Pod Projections: Dustin Ackley

On Monday, I posted an introduction to my forecasting method for hitters that I developed to help me in my fantasy leagues. I do not actually project any statistics besides the five fantasy categories and those that lead to the calculation of them. As a result, no walks and on base percentage, doubles and slugging percentage or wOBA from me. So just a heads up if anyone wanted to hear what OPS I am projecting, sorry, but I have no projection!

Since I am going in alphabetical order in my projections and haven’t gotten very far, I have decided to start with Dustin Ackley. He is quite the interesting player to project as Jeff Zimmerman is not a fan and Chad Young suggested fantasy owners pass on him and wait for Jason Kipnis later. Early mock drafters aren’t overly optimistic, as his ADP sits at 133, which is the beginning of the 12th round 11th among second basemen.

Now let’s begin the projection process in the order I actually project each statistic…

At-Bats: 575. He will be hitting near the top of the order and is the de facto starter. Unless he completely flops, he will be up all year, and with a weak Mariners lineup, has little chance of being bumped further down in the lineup.

Contact Rate: 81%. This is (at-bats – strikeouts) / at-bats. Since FanGraphs changed its formula for K% to use plate appearances in the denominator, my projection is not comparable. In his time with the Mariners last year, Ackley’s contact rate fell dramatically, to just 76%. He posted an 86% rate at Triple-A last season and an 82% at the level in 2010. You usually don’t see a hitter’s contact rate drop by that much upon his promotion to the majors, so I would expect some rebound. He also posted pretty good Contact% and SwStk% rates, which provides more reasons for optimism.

GB%/LD%/FB%: 42%/21%/37%. This is always a little tricky for young hitters as I have to rely on StatCorner’s minor league batted ball rates. This distribution is similar to what he did with the M’s last year, but with a few more grounders. Batted ball distributions are one of the more stable stats, so he should not vary wildly from the projection.

BABIP: .320. The two expected BABIP metrics I use spit out .315 and .321 marks, while he posted a .339 mark last year. However, he was less impressive in the minors, where BABIPs are usually higher. Given his solid line drive rate and decent power/speed mix, I think .320 is reasonable, but do not expect a repeat of .339, since he hits too many fly balls for someone with only mediocre power.

HR/FB Ratio: 7%. He posted a 6.2% mark last year with the Mariners. Unfortunately, the site I used to use to calculate minor league HR/FB ratios no longer exists. StatCorner does have a stat called HR/BIA, which includes all balls in the air as the denominator, rather than just fly balls. We could compare Ackley’s mark with the league average and then translate it to the comparable HR/FB ratio. When we do that, we get HR/FB rates of 2.7%, then 8.1%, and last 10.1%. Those last two marks came at Triple-A Tacoma, which boasts a left-handed home run park factor of 102 last year, a bit better than the 95 mark SAFECO held. Given the greater difficulty of hitting home runs in the majors and the worse ballpark, the HR/FB projection roulette wheel landed on 7%.

RBI and Runs: 75 and 80. Ackley hit third at the end of last season and the only current projected lineup site I have found also has him in the slot. Of course, this site has Franklin Gutierrez hitting second, so we shouldn’t take their word as gospel. I do think Ackley fits much better as a #2 hitter, so I would be surprised if he really got most of his at-bats in the three hole. That said, the Mariners offense is once again crap, so his combined RBI+Runs aren’t going to be too exciting. He has a good walk rate though, combined with meh power, which points to likely scoring more runs than he drives in.

SBs: 15. With pretty good triple totals and a relatively high Spd score in the Baseball Forecaster, it would appear Ackley has more speed than he is willing to use for thievery purposes. Prorating last year’s 6 steals over the 575 at-bats I project gets us to just 10. However, I think he will steal more frequently this season since he wasn’t caught at all last year, and if I didn’t make myself clear before, the Mariners offense still stinks.

That sums up all the numbers I manually project myself. They then get thrown into various formulas and spit out batting average and home runs. Here is my final projected batting line, along with Bill James and Fans projections for comparison.

Pod 575 0.273 12 75 80 15 81% 0.320 7% 42%/21%/37%
Bill James 616 0.255 11 60 82 14 82% 0.296 ?? ??
Fans 583 0.288 14 90 98 16 80% 0.337 ?? ??

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

16 Responses to “2012 Pod Projections: Dustin Ackley”

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  1. Jason P says:

    I’d be curious to see what formulas you use to get your projections. I’m looking at possibly keeping Ackley at my IF position with Howie Kendrick as my 2B.

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    • The formulas for batting average and home runs are just straight forward calculations based on the inputs above. I think there is more upside for Ackley than downside to my projection, but it depends on his cost of course.

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  2. Zach K says:

    It would be nice to see BB rate, OBP, and SLG projected. There are a lot of OBP and OPS leagues out there (not to mention SB-CS leagues).

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    • Yeah, maybe one of these years when I have more time. Like I said, I only develop the projections to use for my fantasy league, so never felt the need to project more categories than the league uses.

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  3. slash12 says:

    RIP minorleaguesplits.com I used this for my batted ball projections too.

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    • geo says:

      I would love to see somebody put up something similar to the hugely-missed minorleaguesplits.com.

      Surprised that James is the most pessimistic of the three on Ackley; those projections are usually the rosiest of the rosy.

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  4. JJ says:

    Nice work, Mike.
    I’ve rostered Ackley in my UltraRoto AL Only league since he was drafted. I am probably more bullish on him than most, but your projection seems reasonable; I’d be happy with those numbers.
    Will you be making all of your projections available?

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    • In previous years, my projections were available on FantasyPros911.com, but I have not made any plans yet to publish the entire set for this season. I will be writing up random players though leading up to the season, and would be happy to provide quick projections on anyone you are curious about. You can send me an email if you have specific questions or requests.

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  5. joe bananas says:

    ackley for $1
    napoli for $7?

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  6. CamraMaan says:

    The only problem with any Ackley projections is every stat line is somewhat “tainted” in terms of what he “should” be doing at that level. He was rushed through the minors from day one, so his development at each level was never really there. He was in AA when he should have spent a short time in A ball, then he was in AAA when he should have been in AA, and then he was in the majors when he should have been in AAA. The reason for the rush is everyone knows he can handle being rushed, and learn quick, however you see his best at each level for only a week or two before he got bumped up to the next level. Honestly his best projectable stat is probably his 2011 AAA line, when he had been given the time to acclimate and settle in. To be honest, I think its funny how everyone is looking at him with little faith, because when you watch the kid he just oozes talent, albeit said talent is mixed in with his proper adjustment time. Don’t sell toooo short on the kid in your draft or the next guy will grab him before you do, and you’ll be the one is wishing you had of grabbed him first. He has the talent and mental aptitude to adjust just fine to the majors, and I would bet money that he’s batting around .300 this next season, and likely higher the next year.

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  7. Jason says:

    Re: projected lineup at MLBDepthCharts

    Mike, why question the site’s current projection of Franklin Gutierrez as the #2 hitter when there is absolutely no one else who fits in that spot? He obviously is a terrible fit, but that says more about the options the Mariners have. The majority of his AB’s in 2011 were from the #2 spot so it’s not like it’s foreign to him. Ackley is the best fit for the #2 spot, but on this team, he’s also the best fit for the #3 spot. Anyhow, thanks for the link. Most managers don’t even know at this point what their lineups will look like but I just wanted to make it clear that there is a lot of thought and research put into all projections on the site.

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  8. Anon says:

    I disagree with these projections. Ackley played very well last year and he wasn’t called up until June. I think the grind of the Majors took its toll in September, but he was right around .300 BA until that point. I fully expect that he will continue to improve as a hitter. I wouldn’t doubt if he ends up with ~ .310 for BA. I think you have his HRs about right, but he should have more runs than you project. Also, he will probably end up around 10 triples, and 30 doubles.

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  9. whynot says:

    Looking at the 16.6 BB% and 11.5 K% in Ackley’s second go-round in AAA, combined with a decent power/speed combo and limited time in the minors, I believe it won’t take long for his stock to once again rise among the masses. I see .310/.390, 20/20 offensive production starting in 2013, his age 25 season.

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  10. JJ says:


    You offered us to suggest players. Here’ one: Mike Moustakas.
    I currently roster him in my league at a salary of $10. If I keep him I am locked out of drafting any 3B or Corner Infielders. I can’t seem to get a clear picture on Moose. Will the contact rate improve? Will the power develop? His September was great, but what to expect over a full season?

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    • Moustakas is a good name, unfortunately he’s the type of player my projection won’t really help you with! I am no scout and don’t know what caused his lack of power last year. Most projection systems, including mine, will just assume a rebound power-wise, but I don’t have any inside info or any more confidence about him than anyone else does.

      Depending on your league format, I have no idea if $10 is an acceptable price or way too much.

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  11. Dexter Bobo says:

    If you have his minor league batted ball percentages, can’t you just calculate his minor league HR/FB ratio from that?

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