Grading White Sox newcomers at the season’s quarter-mark
CF AUSTIN JACKSON
I wrote about Austin Jackson having X-factor potential earlier in the season, and my opinion hasn’t really changed.
Sure, the .224/.293/.313 line is not pretty, but Austin Jackson has continued to see a BABIP (.297) that remains below career norms. His hard contact is actually up a bit this year, and at least from a counting stats perspective, I gladly would have taken 10 doubles by May 19th.
In fact, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen the same player be robbed of what looked like sure home runs this many times to start a season.
Whether it’s been the wind or cold weather, Jackson has had a noticeable amount of balls just die on the track. The bat is never going to be amazing, but he has enough ability to connect on his share of gappers that I think it’ll at least continue to be serviceable.
Jackson’s greatest impact has been in centerfield. Not only does he have a capable glove himself, but he’s turned Adam Eaton into a monster by forcing him into right field. Austin Jackson in CF changes the complexion of the entire outfield defense, and he’s a big reason why the pitching has played up.
If there’s a knock on Jackson, it’s that he hasn’t stolen as many bases as I’d like. He has just one steal on the season, and after coming off of 17 stolen bases last year, I was looking forward to a little more speed.
I still think Austin Jackson is probably better suited as a fourth outfielder because his bat is exposed less, so in that role he might earn a higher mark. As a starter though, his -0.3 fWAR to start the season keeps me from placing him in B-range.
Next: SS Jimmy Rollins