The future is nigh.
2009 No. 2 overall pick Dustin Ackley will make his major league debut against the Phillies a little over two hours from now. And according to Greg Johns of MLB.com, the 23-year-old second baseman will bat seventh.
I know, I know. While it’s tempting to lose it over Ackley batting seventh, it would be unfair to install him as the No. 2 hitter right out of the gate, especially with Roy Oswalt on the hill for the Phillies. Granted, Oswalt hasn’t been himself lately, but that’s no easy task, even for someone with a polished approach like Ackley. Let’s not cast him as the lineup’s savior.
Ackley had a .421 on-base percentage with Triple-A Tacoma and compiled a ridiculous 117/130 K/BB ratio over 918 plate appearances in the minor leagues, so it won’t be long before he’s the No. 2 hitter behind Ichiro. It might not happen tomorrow or even next week, but it will happen soon enough.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: