Jackson Voted AL Rookie of the Month


Major League Baseball announced today that Detroit Tigers centerfielder Austin Jackson and Atlanta Braves rightfielder Jason Heyward have been named the Gilette Rookies of the Month in the American and National Leagues, respectively.

This is nice accomplishment for both players but since this is a Tigers blog afterall, I will focus solely on Jackson. Jackson became the third Tigers to win this award, joining Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander before him.

That fact is there isn’t another rookie this honor could have gone to.

Prior to joining the Tigers via trade with the Yankees, Jackson had never appeared in even one Major League game. He was handed the tall task of replacing the man he was traded for, Curtis Granderson, not only in the Tigers lineup, but also in the hearts and minds of Tigers fans all over.

No I know that one month does not a season, nor a career make, just ask Chris Shelton about that one, but Jackson has been much more than any Tiger fan could have hoped for.

He plays defense with the elite in the league as a centerfielder, frequently and routinely running down balls he has no business getting to. Fangraphs has Jackson rated as the number one defender in centerfield in terms of UZR, in either league.

At the plate, Jackson ranks as the leader in base hits, not just among rookies, not just in the AL, but the leader in hits, by any player, in either league. I addition to that, he’s batting a cool .377, which is a number that also leads all of baseball, six points ahead of Robinson Cano. He is currently fifth in runs scored and has stolen five bags, ranking him 12th in the AL.

Jackson is also third in On Base Percentage, third in runs created, 10th in OPS, eighth in Adjusted OPS, and tied for the league lead in triples.

Of course, he has struck out a whole bunch. His 34 K’s also leads the majors and puts him on pace to smash the single-season record. But he has gotten better recently, fanning just twice in his last seven contests.

I know the counter-arguments. Jackson is batting .532 on balls in play, obviously that number cannot continue at such a clip. I understand that and don’t dispute it. He does strikeout far too often, also agreed. There is no doubt that he will struggle before the year is done. He will have to make adjustments once opposing pitchers adjust better to him.

But what he has shown so far is a talent level that I’m not sure too many people thought he had. He has the ability to succeed at this level, and with his hot start, he has the confidence to know he belongs here.

We’re barely a month into the season, but when you look at Jackson and really watch him play, both offensively and defensively, don’t you just get the sense that the Tigers stole him from New York?

I know I do.