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July 7, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Ichiro out of leadoff spot by Mariners in favor of…Dustin Ackley

Well, at least we can say there’s never a dull moment with these Mariners. Ichiro tonight has been bumped out of the leadoff spot and down to No. 2 in the order.
His replacement up top: Dustin Ackley.
Now, let’s get this straight. The only reason the Mariners are doing this is to see whether there is any jolt to Ackley’s flatlining numbers. Because for the same reasons we were dumfounded five weeks ago, we continue to be flabbergasted again today. Ackley has a season-long on-base-percentage of .315.
But his OBP the past five weeks since being taken out of the leadoff spot is .306.
When Ichiro was put in the leadoff spot, he had an OBP of .305.
Just for the record, you will almost never see MLB teams putting new leadoff hitters into that slot this late in the season with OBPs that low. Even once, let alone twice in the span of five weeks. I’m telling you, others are looking in on the Mariners from around the country right now, adjusting their bifocals and scratching their heads.
Because you normally take struggling hitters out of the leadoff spot and replace them with guys who can actually get on base. John Jaso and Michael Saunders are two possibilities, especially since they’ve trended more up than down the past five weeks. Instead, the Mariners keep taking their worst, most struggling hitters and sticking them in the No. 1 spot hoping they’ll get better.
This team is starting to take on the look of a dog hopelessly chasing its own tail.
But believe me, I understand the logic. So, you don’t have to all write in explaining it to me. Yes, the Mariners know that Ackley had his best offensive numbers all season when hitting out of the leadoff spot full-time from May 4 to June 1.
He put up a .275 batting average, .353 OBP and looked like he’d turned his season around.
Did yanking him out of there impact his numbers? Or would he have fallen off anyway? The Mariners seem to be opting for Door No. 2 in that they believe reinstalling him at No. 1 might make a difference.
At this point, the move smacks of some desperation.

About the only thing you can argue in the team’s defense is that Ackley’s .306 OBP since leaving the leadoff spot is still better than Ichiro’s .255 OBP in the No. 1 position. So, yeah, there actually is a baseball argument to be made in this case.
So, I can’t really get on the Mariners as much as I did when they moved Ackley out of the leadoff spot in the first place. You follow?
Because .306 trumps .255.
But not on any scale that pertains to winning. A winning team does not want anyone with a sub-.330 OBP leading off if they can help it.
You really want a guy .350 or higher.
At this stage, the whole thing is becoming farcical. And if Ackley goes to Class AAA in a couple of days, it may all be moot.



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