Why You Should Pass on Ackley and Wait for Kipnis

In the FanGraphs mock draft, the first three second basemen off the board were exactly who you would expect: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, and Ian Kinsler. The fourth was Dustin Ackley, the soon-to-be 24-year-old second basemen of the Seattle Mariners. Ackley was a top prospect prior to the 2011 season, and didn’t disappoint in his first taste of the big leagues, posting a .765 OPS with six home runs and six stolen bases in just 90 games.

Fast forward six rounds, and Jason Kipnis became the tenth 2B selected, grabbed with the second pick in the tenth round. Kipnis tore apart the American League in his first 36 games, posting an .840 OPS with seven home runs and five stolen bases. So why did he go 69 picks later than Ackley in the mock draft?

Jeff Zimmerman started to touch on this a week back, commenting that “The pick of Ackley was too high” and that “Kipnis has the chance to be a stud.” But lest we assume this was just a case of Brandon Warne being trigger happy on Ackley, across all mock drafts on Mock Draft Central to date, Kipnis has been going, on average, more than 60 picks after Ackley.

Ackley has almost universally been seen as the better prospect, but the there is really only one number that bears this out: his age. Kipnis is 14 months older than Ackley and the two have been at roughly the same level throughout their careers, although Ackley has consistently moved up a half-step ahead of Kipnis.

Both got their first taste of Double-A in 2010. Ackley hit .260/.386/.381 with two home runs and eight stolen bases over 350 plate appearances. In almost the same number of PA, Kipnis had a .311/.385/.502 line, including 10 HR and seven SB. That said, Kipnis’s line was BABIP inflated, and Ackley posted better plate discipline numbers, walking more (15.7% BB-rate) than Kipnis (8.7%) and striking out less (11.7% to 17.2%). Kipnis, though, had a much higher ISO, clocking in at .190 to Ackley’s .121.

Ackley also got a taste of Triple-A in 2010, and both players started 2011 in Triple-A. Ackley maintained his plate discipline and made strides in his power stroke, slashing .303/.421/.487 in 331 PA for Tacoma in 2011, with nine HR and seven SB. In his first shot at Triple-A pitching, Kipnis posted a .280/.362/.484 with 12 HR and 12 SB in 400 PA. He also increased his walk rate, without taking too many more strikeouts, and saw his ISO top .200 for the first time. Ackley played his Double- and Triple-A games in parks that are pretty hitter-neutral, although the PCL does have a reputation as a hitter’s league. Kipnis also played in pretty neutral parks, but his Double-A games came in Akron, where HRs from right-handed batters are significantly suppressed.

Looking at those numbers, including their respective stints in the bigs, there is not a ton to separate the two – Ackley has better plate discipline and put up his numbers at a younger age; Kipnis has the better MLB numbers and has more power. If you ask me who I would rather have for the long-haul, I would probably say Ackley is the answer, but I don’t think it is clear-cut by any means. The Indians, for example, are short on right-handed power, and probably wouldn’t even consider swapping Kipnis for Ackley. From a fantasy perspective, a team that wants AVG or OBP help is probably better off betting on Ackley, while a team that wants power from the MI should probably go with Kipnis.

But if you go back to the top of the article, you’ll see that to get Ackley, you have to take him about 60 picks earlier than you have to take Kipnis. And when you add in that cost, Kipnis is a far preferable choice. The three guys selected after Ackley in the FanGraphs mock draft were Brian McCann, Zack Greinke, and Dan Haren. Instead of Ackley, Brandon Warne could have taken any of those three (or Eric Hosmer, or Stephen Strasburg, or any number of other players, if he wanted to focus on youth), and still nabbed Kipnis in the 9th round, where he took Mark Reynolds.

It is still early, and maybe over the next couple months, people will decide to wait on Ackley or move earlier on Kipnis, but until that happens, the premium cost for Ackley just doesn’t make sense when Kipnis may very well provide the same production for a much, much lower price.

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20 Responses to “Why You Should Pass on Ackley and Wait for Kipnis”

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  1. Herb says:

    Kipnis is a lefty, still I agree he is as good or not a big dropoff at all from Ackley.

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    • Chad Young says:

      Well that was an embarrassing mistake, particularly coming from a Cleveland native and life-long Indians fan.

      Nice catch…corrected. I still think the Indians wouldn’t make that trade.

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  2. batpig says:

    I would to play in a league with that fool who drafted Ackley so high. I said it in both the other articles about this, that was a HORRRRRIBLE pick. Just awful.

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  3. geo says:

    Ackley is way overrated, and I’m not sure that applies only to fantasy. I’m far from convinced that he’s going to be the player many envision.

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    • eckmuhl says:

      He may be overrated, but I generally like the chances of any age appropriate prospect who was able to control the strike zone enough to net a positive BB/K ratio in the minors. And his K% from last year in the majors could easily come back down to about 15-16% next season. He has enough pop in his bat that pitchers can’t just feed him stuff in the zone and take a chance that he’ll be unable to hurt them, so the walk rate should stay solid. Add competent defense to the resume, and while I don’t see any monster seasons, I see a nice career.

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      • drewcorb says:

        I would argue every baseball player had a positive BB/K ratio in both the minors and majors.

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      • eckmuhl says:

        And I believe anyone who bothers to post a snide comment over a minor error in the comment section of a website article – even when it was obvious said person knew what was meant – to be a captious loser.

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      • EDGY SMART says:

        Drew you had better say .300 average like it is actually written then you fucking faggot.

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  4. Eric Dykstra says:

    Ackley has quite a bit of value in OBP leagues (the kind I usually play), and could have an unexpected power breakout. I’d bet on Kipnis having a better fantasy league in standard 5×5.

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  5. Pugsly says:

    People who take Ackley that high also seem to ignore Runs/RBI. Players on teams like Seattle are destined to go 70/70 (maybe worse).

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  6. Matty Brown says:

    Ackley’s name always makes me think of “The Catcher in the Rye”.

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  7. mopaniac says:

    Well the fact that they both played on the same afloat team the havelinas where Ackley started over kipnis and Ackley also won mvp of that league with a 424 aggregate says something plus there isn’t. A more disciplined ,and humble player he will have a long career. You can bet on that look at his college numbers they are magical

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  8. short says:

    Ackley is going to be a great player, but he’s not a good pick in some fantasy leagues. My league counts 2B and 3B separately, however, and Ackley is going to be an excellent choice at second base. His level swing and excellent speed and baserunning are going to produce a lot of extra base hits, but not as many home runs. Ackley was tied for third in triples last season among second basemen. He played 90 games. He added 16 doubles in that time as well. With triples being so valuable in this league, Ackley’s value in the draft goes way up. Except he won’t be drafted because he’ll be on my team as a keeper.

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    • viconquest says:

      That’s weird you count 2B and 3B seperately, but regardless, it would have to be a pretty deep keeper league to justify holding onto Ackley.

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      • Everett says:

        Or a league in which keeper value is based on where they’re picked. If you can keep Ackley as a 25th rounder or some such, then great. If he’s going to cost you a high pick, toss him back.

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  9. KCExile says:

    How big a jump does Ackley take from the acquisition of Montero?

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  10. FantasyNomad says:

    I recently traded Michael Pineda for James Paxton and Jason Kipnis in a dynasty league, in which my team will not compete for AT LEAST another year. I also have high draft picks coming up, in a non-snake draft, and have an additional second round pick. Thoughts? I made trade in part because I believe in Kipnis & needed MI help. thx

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