19 March 2012
Lynn Henning has a Detroit News article out today in which he extols the virtues of Austin Jackson’s changed batting approach. Henning admits that Jackson’s 11 strikeouts in 29 at-bats don’t look very good (as I pointed out the other day), but he quickly dismisses the 32% strikeout rate as not being an issues because of “a different circumstance from 2011”.
I can’t imagine what the “different circumstance” would really be besides the fact that he’s currently racking up the whiffs in spring training, which means he’s likely facing inferior pitching. I guess Henning is trying to argue that Jackson is smacking the ball hard, so he’s looking like a “better hitter” right now than he did at any point last season, even though his strikeout numbers are still sky-high. But I think he’s well off-base with what he’s trying say. Here’s the money quote:
“Jackson, if anything, has been dealing with bad luck after two weeks in the Grapefruit League. He scorched a grounder and a line drive at the shortstop against the Cardinals on Saturday, and came away with zeros.”
In fact, if we take Jackson’s spring numbers to date, and regress them to a BABIP of .340, then his slash line falls to: .234/.317/.366. That’s nearly identical to the numbers he ended up with last year (.249.319/.374).
So, while the numbers appear on the surface to indicate that Jackson’s hitting has turned a corner, I don’t think the stats really tell us that. If anything, they tell us that we should expect more of the same from the Tigers’ leadoff man.
Matt Snyder is the editor of The Tigers Den. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.