What’s his Grade – I give Austin Jackson a “C.” This is probably higher then most people might have thought but buried in Jackson’s low batting average were some optimistic signs. Yes, he only hit .249 (I wonder who could have predicted that) but he turned some of those doubles into home runs a little earlier then I would have expected from him (keep in mind, Jackson won’t turn 25 until February. Through August, Jackson looked like he was going to end up with more walks then in 2010 (which he did) and less strikeouts (which he didn’t) but a horrible September in which he struck out 42 times set him back. While you just can’t eliminate an entire month, you can explain some of this away as fatigue and it’s no surprise that Jackson struggled in the playoffs this year.
Better or Worse? – Jackson was a little worse in 2011 then he was in 2010 but like I talk about above, it’s not as much as you might think. If you’re a fan of WAR (I’m using Baseball-Reference’s), Jackson had a 2.4 WAR in 2011 versus 2.8 in 2010. A lot of this was because his shortcomings at the plate were made up for by a better season out in the field. He walked nine more times in about the same number of plate appearances so in short, he wasn’t as good as he was in 2010 but I like the development. If Jackson is the lead off hitter of the future, he took a small step in the right direction this year.
MIP (Most Important Statistic) – 10 home runs. At just 24, Jackson showed some increased pop at the plate. If this is a trend, a 25 home run/25 stolen base season in the future isn’t out of the question. Of course if he’s leading off, his primary job should be to get on base but it’s nice knowing we could have one more potential power bat in waiting. The only other season Jackson hit more home runs in a season was 2007 when he split time with three different affiliates (he hit most of those home runs with Tampa).
Fun with Splits – In the first inning, Austin Jackson hit .220/.275/.326. Jackson’s best inning was the sixth inning. When he hit in that inning, he belted .379/.429/.655. With two outs in the inning, Jackson hit just .159/.257/.298. He was best with one out when he hit .308/.358/.404. Jackson also loved the White Sox. In 15 games, he hit .391/.443/.625.
Conclusion – A lot was made of Jackson’s .396 BABIP last year. This year, he hit .340 which is still well above average. Many people think that it means Jackson has more room to drop in 2012 but I think with Jackson’s speed, he should be able to stay above the average .300 until he begins to slow down. My guess is that we see a slightly better Austin Jackson in 2013 and I hope some of these nice bumps he had (home runs, defense) are trends and not one time occurrences.