The Detroit Tigers might not miss Prince Fielder‘s bat after all if Austin Jackson‘s performance in Spring Training thus far is an indicator of how his 2014 season will be.
Jackson continued his great start to the preseason as he drove in the only runs in Detroit’s 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates this afternoon with a two-run homer in the fourth inning. It was the first time he went yard in Spring Training.
That now gives Jackson seven RBI’s in only five games, which ties him for first in the Majors with teammate Nick Castellanos. His five runs so far this Spring Training is also tied for the league lead with Roger Bernadina of the Cincinnati Reds and Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates. And to cap it all off, he leads the league in hits with a total of eight in only 13 at-bats.
Unfortunately for Jackson, they do not give out a Spring Training MVP, or else he would be the lead candidate for that award as of now. Also, these numbers all get erased when the official start of the season begins for the Tigers on March 31.
However, these are fantastic signs for the Tigers and Jackson as they look ahead to the start of the season in only 27 days. It is early on in Spring Training, but right now Jackson has a batting average of .615; the three previous years were .229, .271 and .209. He has already equated his home run output of last year’s Spring Training in 57 less at-bats and has one fewer RBI in a fifth of the amount of games.
Jackson’s remarkable uptick in production so far in Spring Training could be attributed to the fact that he now has a different spot in the lineup. Instead of having the pressures and difficulties of leading off, Jackson sits in the middle of the lineup and can come to the plate in various situations that forces the pitcher to throw hittable pitches to him; like as if there are runners in scoring position or if the bases are loaded. These different looks will make it so pitchers cannot afford to throw him bad pitches and walk him, which would add more runners on the bases.
Even though it is only Spring Training and these numbers have no value once the real 2014 season starts, there is no reason the Tigers should not be immensely happy about Jackson’s production so far and be very optimistic about what kind of season he can have in 2014.