5 Reasons Why Austin Jackson Should Lead Off for Detroit Tigers in 2014

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5 Reasons Austin Jackson Should Lead Off for Detroit Tigers in 2014

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

With the addition of former Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, many Detroit Tigers fans are wondering who will lead off for the Tigers in 2014.

That spot has belonged to Austin Jackson for the past four seasons, but after Jim Leyland decided to drop him to the eighth spot halfway through the 2013 ALCS and now with the addition of Kinsler, it doesn't seem like such a sure thing anymore.

Despite Kinsler's addition to the lineup, the Tigers should leave Jackson in the leadoff spot in 2014.

Kinsler, who turns 32 years old in late-June, has been a leadoff hitter for the majority of his career. However, he's not as much of a base-stealing threat as he used to be. The 27-year-old Jackson should be nearing his physical prime and the Tigers shouldn't be so quick to assume he can't provide the necessary spark at the top of the batting order.

Kinsler's addition gives the Tigers more flexibility at the top of the order. In the recent past, Jackson has been the team's only option at the top of the order, but now they could go a couple of different routes. If anything, Jackson will now have to prove he belongs at the top of the order.

Jackson seemed to perk up after being dropped to the eighth spot last season, and the Tigers have to hope that the pressure of losing that duty to Kinsler will bring the best out of him. He has all the tools to succeed in that position--he just needs to prove he can do it consistently for an entire season.

David Fouty is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @davefouty, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Austin Jackson Wouldn't Be Effective Lower in the Lineup

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Jackson typically isn't going to do much driving in runs of his own. He is more effective on the base-paths than he is in the batter's box and the Tigers need him running the bases when Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are at the plate.

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4. Victor Martinez Needs Protection in the Fifth Spot

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Last season, Martinez provided protection for Prince Fielder, but now that Fielder has moved on, the Tigers don't have many options in the fifth spot. If the Tigers decided to lead off with Kinsler and Torii Hunter, there wouldn't be many good options to put in the fifth spot behind Martinez.

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3. Torii Hunter Isn't Getting Any Younger

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Hunter had an exceptional season in the second spot of the batting order in 2013, but Hunter turns 39 years old in July and it will be difficult for him to be as effective as he was at the plate in 2014. Hunter would be guaranteed plenty of opportunities to hit with runners on base in the fifth spot and he showed the ability to hit for power last season.

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2. Ian Kinsler Would Thrive Batting Second

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It's obvious Kinsler belongs near the top of the batting order, but he doesn't necessarily have to bat first. Kinsler has more power than Jackson and would give the Tigers another player with a knack for getting on base ahead of Cabrera.

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1. Austin Jackson Should Be Nearing His Prime

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Consistency isn't a word anyone would use to describe Jackson, but his potential is obvious. At 27 years old, the Tigers have to give Jackson the chance to play up to his potential. They've invested a lot in Jackson over the years and know he is capable of being one of the top options at the leadoff spot.

Jackson's skill set screams leadoff hitter and he wouldn't be nearly as effective lower in the lineup. While Kinsler and Hunter seem to have more of an ability to adapt to different positions, it doesn't seem like Jackson would be able to transition so seamlessly.

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  • http://www.MotownSportsFans.com MotownNate

    No way. I can’t buy Jackson having to bat leadoff. One of your reasons was that he wouldn’t be effective at the bottom of the order, but he was completely inept at the top of it. He only became effective when he was dropped to the 8 spot. You cannot average 150 K’s per season, and be a leadoff hitter for a playoff caliber team. The only players that can strike out that many times and get away with it, hit 40+ homers or steal 30+ bases. He doesn’t come close to either. We’ll see him at the bottom of the lineup for sure.

  • http://www.rantsports.com/blog/author/davidfouty/ Dave Fouty

    You’re right about the strikeouts, but I feel like people are overestimating Kinsler’s speed. He was caught stealing 11 times last season compared to just 15 successful attempts.

    Kinsler also batted .255 and .256 in 2011-12.

    I just think that batting Hunter at 2 leaves a lot of gaps lower in the order. He did well in that position last season, but I’m not sure we can count on him to perform at the same level this year.

    If Jackson can figure out a way to strike out less than 100 times, he’s most likely going to hit .300 and there’s no way the Tigers can afford to drop him so low in the lineup.