A major weakness for the Detroit Tigers and of very little secret to the rest of MLB, is the lack of speed. The Tigers continue to leave too many runners on base for that very reason. A double doesn’t necessarily score a player from first base on this team, nor does a single automatically bring home the runner from second.
The Tigers can’t rely simply on the home run ball in the playoffs to manufacture runs. Players like leadoff man Austin Jackson need to improve their on-base percentage. Jackson has to do this simply because he’s one of the few players with a decent amount of speed. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder obviously have their drawbacks on the basepaths. Jackson usually has an on-base percentage around 60 points higher than his batting average. That’s encouraging.
His strikeouts are 2.5 higher than his walks. That’s not encouraging. The more Jackson gets on base, the more likely it is that the batters behind him like Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder will get an RBI. Jackson needs to have more patient at-bats and quit swinging at balls. His stolen base output could also stand significant upgrading. Pitchers don’t worry about leadoff men for the Tigers too much because Detroit usually doesn’t have the stolen base in its offense.
It’s no secret the Tigers need Jackson’s speed in the outfield to chase down fly balls. If Jhonny Peralta winds up in left field, the team will need Jackson to back him up since Peralta has been struggling at that spot.
But most of all, Jackson needs to score runs. He has to finally learn that what was said in little league is true: a walk is as good as a hit.