Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jackson hole

Austin Jackson is off to a solid start for the Tigers. He is batting .314/.379/.453 and his .832 OPS is 24% better than average. He has 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB and 14 R in 20 games. He also is playing well defensively in center field.

Now, the trouble spot. His BABIP is a league-high .491. Franklin Gutierrez is second at .422. It is obvious Jackson cannot sustain this type of success. And he needs to sustain it because he also has a league-high 32 whiffs (in just 95 PAs). More than half his outs are Ks.

Once those balls stop dropping for hits, this low contact rate will severely impact his stats. Consider this: The BABIP leaders from Gutierrez through No. 10 Joe Mauer (covering a range of .422 to .373) all have batting averages between .320 and .389. In the case of Mauer, as an example, Jackson is batting more than a hundred points higher in BABIP yet batting 42 points lower in actual average.

Jackson's BABIP is not completely fluky, though. His line drive percentage is nearly 35, which is third-highest in MLB. And his K% is actually only fourth-worst in MLB (and a tick better than all-world Jason Heyward).

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