In his third year wearing the Old English D, Austin Jackson finally ended a season batting .300, the magical mark for a ballplayer, while scoring more than 100 runs and reaching career highs in homeruns (16) and RBI’s (66).
There is no reason to think this won’t continue this upcoming season. Jackson should be able to keep his average up and might even reach 20 homeruns if he stays healthy all year.
Defensively Jackson ranks amongst the best in the American League, in my book. I saw a game last year in which he ran down a blooper to left-center field. When the ball left the bat it didn’t look like he had a chance. When the ball was halfway down, and then again when it was three-quarters it still looked like the math didn’t add up for a person running as fast as Jackson was to catch a ball coming down as fast as it was. Yet there at the last moment he was and somehow the ball was nestled safely in his big mitt. Just another catch for him no doubt, but one I’ll not soon forget.
One thing I would like to see this year from the speedy center fielder is more activity on the base paths. I know that the skipper, Jim Leyland, doesn’t like to run a lot and that Jackson does not have the best percentage when it comes to stealing bases. Nevertheless the Tigers were 13th out of the 14 American League teams last season in stolen bases and have not really added speed in the off-season. Torii Hunter, acquired from the Los Angeles Angels, is fast but aging. Even if it is just to practice for stealing bases in the postseason, I would like to see Jackson attempt to swipe a bag more often than he did last year.
If Austin Jackson has a season like he did last year, and maybe steals just a few more bases and has a few more homeruns, I see no reason why he shouldn’t be and all-star come July. More than a few Tigers fans thought he deserved the nod last season.