Aug 7, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners left fielder Dustin Ackley (13) hits a two-RBI single against the Chicago White Sox during the sixth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Mariners Playoff Hopes: Dustin Ackley is the Key

Who will lead the Seattle Mariners to the playoffs in 2014? Felix Hernandez, right? Hisashi Iwakuma? Fernando Rodney? Robinson Cano? Kyle Seager? Yes, yes, yes…basically yes to all of those.

Who else will be a key player? Which member of the Mariners could be the guy that puts them over the top? You guessed it…

Dustin Ackley.

He doesn’t seem to be a likely hero. After all, he has been an off-and-on object of scorn for the last couple of years. Plenty of fans would have been happy to see him shipped out earlier in the season for another prospect.

And yet, here we are. The Mariners are chasing a Wild Card slot and Dustin Ackley is swinging a very hot bat.

Look, the Mariners are going to need everyone to play well if they are going to stay in contention until the bitter end. The starting pitching has to stay strong, the bullpen has to remain stingy and the lineup needs to produce like they did in the 13-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on August 7.

The reason that Dustin Ackley may be the key is that the Mariners need one more consistent bat to keep hitting throughout the remainder of the year. Cano has been great, and Seager was named to the All-Star game for a reason. However, the Mariners have been looking for that elusive third stick all season.

You need at least three productive bats to keep your lineup balanced and an ongoing threat. If a starter can work through the table-setters and then pitch around your star, the team will be in trouble all throughout the game.

Now, Ackley still doesn’t have a spectacular batting average or on-base percentage. But, Dustin Ackley hit .365 in the month of July after hitting .165 in June. That’s an incredible difference.

Perhaps Austin Jackson can be the catalyst that inspires the offense. Maybe Kendrys Morales remembers how to hit. There also exists the possibility that Chris Taylor could provide a youthful spark to the offense.

As the season winds down, it may be Ackley in that No.2 spot that really gets the offense going in the right direction. The densely bearded one in left field may be the key to making the playoffs.

Tags: Dustin Ackley Seattle Mariners

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