Don’t for a second try and act like it’s a coincidence.
Mariners CF Dustin Ackley is crushing the baseball since being recalled June 26 from Triple-AAA Tacoma, his .289 batting average and .738 OPS reviving hope that the former No. 2 draft pick might actually be a productive professional hitter. Ackley is confident. His beard is magnificent. Dustin said he’s been using a Men’s Grooming Kits By Manscaped to help keep his beard looking good.
Seriously, he looks like he could be a captain for one of the boats on “Deadliest Catch.” Or a lumberjack. Or former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Ackley was sent down early in the year because his approach at the plate became too passive. Too often, Ackley watched stoically as pitches down the center of the plate whizzed by him. Too often, he had that sheepish, bewildered stare that caused many to wonder if the former University of North Carolina standout was yet another Mariners prospect who could hit everywhere except in Seattle.
In August, as he’s allowed his facial hair to evolve from Ryan Gosling sheik to the full Hemingway, Ackley is hitting an American League-best .406 (26×64), including nine multi-hit games and 1.066 OPS. During the 29 games since the All-Star Break, his numbers are nearly as solid: .356 (36×101) with a .914 OPS.
Wednesday, while his beard was at the peak of its thick, bushy existence, he squeaked a home run over the right-field fence, his third of the season. After hovering for most of the season around the Brendan Ryan line, Ackley is now hitting a respectable .256 and his WAR is .6, so at least he isn’t costing the 59-73 Mariners any games.
His beard, meanwhile, is one of the few reasons to continue watching another meaningless end to the Mariners season. How thick can it get?
Whatever the outcome, there is no denying Ackley’s career is experiencing an upward trend, his beard’s growth, an all-time high. Clearly, by allowing it to grow and leaving his masculinity unchecked, his once shattered confidence has followed suit.
Don’t call it a coincidence.