Austin Jackson: Professional Center Fielder (Part 2)

aj7571655312_887603ce6a_z== We like what we see ==

Did we run our Brainstorm Designer Stats on Austin Jackson, in which we attempt to measure non-random offensive value?  Yes, we did, and they won’t proverbially blow your proverbial doors off, but that’s why we led (in Part 1) with the context.  Cen. Ter. Fielder.

Year Age Team HR%+ BB%+ K%+ XBH%+ PSA+ Conv+ Comp
2010 23 DET 22 83 60 91 57 75 32
2011 24 DET 55 100 49 83 64 72 36
2012 25 DET 96 129 79 114 108 107 115
2013 26 DET 72 101 83 102 89 95 83
2014 27 DET 36 100 86 105 86 91 77

First thing we notice is that XBH% stays fairly constant while HR% fluctuates, which seems to be turning on HR-per-fly-ball rates, which have been shown to have a significant random element.  In other words, the drop-off from his 2012 peak/outlier season doesn’t seem to be decline as much as variation.

Second thing is that the K-rate keeps creeping in the right direction, while the walks and XBH remain.  That strikes us as progress.

Third thing is that our stats draw out which guys are relying on BABIP, which typically is not something over which hitters have a lot of control.  But … some guys will consistently run above-average BABIP (if they have speed and don’t hit lots of lazy balls in the air).  Jackson seems to be one of those guys:

  • His career BABIP is .357
  • He’s never had a season of less than .333 BABIP
  • He’s always run above-average line-drive rates
  • He’s among the lowest in infield-fly-ball rates

Having done that over 3000 plate appearances, we can conclude that it’s not just a string of random good fortune.

Jackson is a guy (even though right-handed) who seems capable of running an above-average BABIP for awhile.  All of which enhances the strong BB-rate and XBH-rate that we see in our table.

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In other words, Jackson seems to be quite well-established as a walks-and-doubles guy (about 30 2b and 50 BB as a solid norm, with a nice helping of triples as well), who might have a bit more upside in that his K-rate has been declining.  Those early years, he had a K-rate much too high for a guy without much ISO punch.  That guy is gone.

And he will, no doubt, get some years in which he has some good fortune on the HR-per-fly-ball front, as he did in 2012.  Then he could be an All-Star.

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On defense, I don’t put tons of faith in the numerical metrics out there, but you can get a visual reading from the charts:

ajdefIt looks to me like he’s making all the plays he should be making and only missing on the difficult ones.  Fangraphs WAR is penalizing him for defense this year, but I’ve never taken the time to figure out how that works.  Their own charts show him making all the routine plays, and the scouts have never questioned that he’s a center fielder, so that’ll do for now.

If someone wants to explain to me how he’s -9.6 UZR/150, I’ll listen.  And I don’t mean that in a snarky way.

In the meantime, I can’t argue with Jackson as the key pickup on Deadline Day.

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