Dustin Ackley already has quite an eye for the strike zone

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In case you haven’t noticed, Dustin Ackley has been on quite a tear of late.

The Seattle Mariners rookie, drafted No. 2 overall behind Stephen Strasburg in the 2009 draft, has a .315/.377/.559 line in 39 games since being called up from Class-AAA Tacoma. His OPS+ is 165, the fifth highest OPS+ ever for a rookie with at least 150 plate appearance.

He’s showing unexpected power as well, with five home runs and five triples. (Although to be fair, one of those triples was a line drive that Ryan Sweeney botched badly, and another was a bit fluky and involved an Ichiro impersonator. Ackley has wheels, but he’s not exactly Jose Reyes.)

Anyway, Jeff Sullivan at Lookout Landing has a nice breakdown of what Ackley has done so far, and ponders the possibility that it’s pointless to guess what Ackley will become, because Mariners fans might already be seeing his best, and that’s a good thing.

One thing’s for certain, the 23-year-old seems to know the strike zone. Below are two charts, courtesy of Texas Leaguers. The first shows pitches from lefties that Ackley has swung at, the second shows pitches he has taken. Impressive.

 

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Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. Mattingly came out to argue with the umpires about the fairness of issuing warnings right then and there. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly apparently said, “You’re next” to Posey, who was standing around home plate. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.