Austin Jackson burst onto the scene this year and made us all forget about the guy who manned Comerica Park’s spacious center field for the past four years. Action Jackson was a hit, he was going to win the Rookie of the Year award, and he was probably going to be an All-Star. But the national critics butted in on Detroit’s love fest and boldly brought up his mostrous .500 BABIP, his obscene strikeout rate, and predicted regression. They made some good points, it turns out.
We’re now in the middle of June and Austin’s batting average has fallen from the .354 that he ended April with to .303. Despite a decreased strikeout rate, Austin has still been struggling to get hits, primarily due to his declining BABIP which now sits at 0.418. Unfortunately, .418 is still higher that we can rightfully expect from him–we’ll probably see something closer to his .361 minor league average.
In fact, if we were to apply his minor league averages in K%, BB%, and BABIP to the rest of the season (while maintining the single, double, triple, home run ratios we’ve seen this year) we would expect him to finish the year with a triple slash rate of .287/.342/.384. Those aren’t his April numbers, but they’re not bad for a rookie either. All in all, it would be an improvement over Curtis Granderson’s 2009 campaign in both batting average and on-base percentage–the two stats that are most linked to hitting leadoff. Ideally, he would get on base at a higher clip, and an increased walk rate would go a long way toward that, but i’ll take the improvement for now.