Jackson’s back in action
During his rookie season in 2010, Austin Jackson had a remarkable debut in which he hit .293 with an on base percentage of .345. 2011 was not as good to Jackson, where he struggled to find consistency at the plate and ended up batting .249 and struck out 181 times. People in Detroit started to wonder which version of Austin Jackson would we see in 2012, and so far, the answer is neither.
It’s a bit cliché to say, but Jackson stormed out of the gate to start the season, hitting .412 after nine games. Watching Jackson play this year, you can help but notice he’s playing with a lot more confidence, and seems to be really hitting his stride at the plate.
Speaking of strides, one of the biggest changes the Tigers tried to make with Jackson’s approach at his plate was to shorten his leg kick. Last year, Jackson was known to be taking a high leg kick with his left leg as the ball approached the plate, making it harder to time fastballs. Once Jackson started to fall behind early in the count, he became increasing susceptible to chasing pitches out of the strike zone. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, Jackson is going to still strike out quite a bit during the course of the year, but an important factor for his potential success will be his ability to get ahead early in the count, and put himself in a better position to be in control of the at bat. Something that seems to have gone largely unnoticed, is the fact that Jackson has already walked seven times this year. Keep in mind that he only walked 56 times during the entire 2011 season.
What this means is that he’s not as willing to chase pitches out of the strike zone. With the lineup that the Tigers have, if Jackson can find ways to get on base, then guys like Brennan Boesch, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder should have no problem finding ways to bring him in to score.
Time will tell how Jackson will fare during the course of the season, but for now, I like what I see.