Monday, May 05, 2014

Why Austin Jackson is the Detroit Tigers most underrated player

Austin Jackson had a number of injury issues last season and didn't perform well by the standards he he had set, especially in the postseason when he turned into a strikeout machine.
Austin Jackson: Perfect combination of youth, experience
Yet, one of the more interesting aspects of Jackson's subpar season is he still registered a good number in the Sabermetric category WAR. It was 3.3 in (Baseball Reference version), which ranked him tied for second among Tigers' position players (with Jhonny Peralta) behind only Miguel Cabrera. In 2012, Jackson was eighth in the AL among position players with 5.4 WAR. He was at 5.2 as a rookie in 2010 and 4.9 in 2011 when he had the best defensive metrics in MLB.
Only two MLB position players born before the 27-year-old Austin Jackson have accumulated a better career WAR: Mike Trout and Jason Heyward.
Jackson's OPS two years ago was .856. It's .857 this season. It's the definition of a bounce back season.
The most impressive aspect of Jackson is his ability to adjust. After his outstanding rookie season, he struggled to start 2011, but fought through it. He then got rid of his high leg kick as a hitter, and had a big year. Last season didn't go well, but he did some hits in the ALCS after a tough ALDS.
This season, he has been very solid after moving down the order. The big adjustment: Cutting back on strikeouts. Jackson's strikeouts per walks ratio had been a disaster area, always well more than two K's per walk. This season, he's struck out 16 times and walked 14.
There are a lot of reasons the Tigers are winning right now. They've been getting good production up and down the lineup. As usual, Austin Jackson is getting a bit overlooked.
He shouldn't be.

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