Austin Jackson had a career year in 2012 batting .300 with 66 RBI and 103 runs scored from the leadoff spot in the lineup. Huge improvements from 2011 when he hit .249 with 45 RBI and 90 runs scored. I think he will be the key to defending the AL Central crown for the Detroit Tigers.
When Jackson got to Detroit he was at best a serviceable center fielder but after last season he just might be an All-Star. It used to be painful to watch his at-bats because you knew that there was a pretty good chance it was going to end with him swinging at a low pitch in the dirt followed by the loneliest walk back to the dugout.
Last season Jackson cut his strikeouts from 181 to 134 which was a welcome sight to many Tiger fans. If he can continue to make the opposing pitchers throw more pitches and even take some more walks here and there he could become one of the premiere lead-off men in Major League Baseball.
Along with his huge improvements at the plate Jackson also was in the talks for a Gold Glove award in the American League. He plays an amazing center field running down fly balls that many other players wouldn’t get to because they simply are not as fast as him.
Jackson only had 12 stolen bases last year which is very low for someone with his speed. The problem is that he isn’t a true base stealer yet but the Tigers have said that they will make strides this year when it comes to stealing bases. If he can become a big threat on the base paths he could potentially get the guys behind him in the order better pitches to hit and most likely create more runs.
How great would it be to have a man in scoring position most of the time when Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder step to the plate? The game is drastically changed when a team has a dangerous lead-off man and I believe Jackson has the potential to become that guy. I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for Jackson and the Tigers.