Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Checking In On AJax

Chad Jennings of the most excellent Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees blog has a story on and a Q&A with Austin Jackson.

The story leads in with a quote from Keith Law in an ESPN.com chat in response to a question about Slade Heathcott, that was rather unflattering towards Jackson:
"He'll sign," Law wrote. "Five-tool guy, chance to be the player that Austin Jackson ... well, that Jackson probably isn't going to be now."
Jennings went around to various members of the organization including teammates and coaches who of course were more than happy to sing Jackson's praises.

Funny that Law would pick this year, when Jackson is hitting .320/.385/.421 in International League play to give such a lukewarm forecast. The reasons for the sentiment behind Law's statement are that Jackson hasn't hit for power, he strikes out too much and his BABIP indicates he's gotten lucky with the placement of his hits.

True, Jackson is averaging more than a strikeout per game, and has only two home runs on the season. Sure, his BABIP is .433, but that isn't quite as high as it seems, since his career average is .366. Furthermore, the increase in strikeouts decreases the denominator in the BABIP equation and the absence of home runs not only inflates the numerator, but also means that his hardest hit balls are landing in play. So perhaps that number isn't as inflated as it seems.

His line drive rate is also quite high at 24% and perhaps some of those balls that are hit hard enough to be home runs are falling into the gaps for doubles. Jackson also has four triples and is 12 for 12 on stolen base attempts.

Jackson made the leap to triple A this year and responded by increasing each of his slash statistics to this point, even if the home runs aren't coming. That would be impressive, even if he weren't just 22 years old.

It seems the Yankees are going to be patient with Jackson and give him time to develop, or so says Joel Sherman:
Interestingly (to me at least), the Yanks are in no rush to bring Austin Jackson to the majors in 2009. They feel he needs the full season of Triple-A experience and might even need some more minor league seasoning next year.
Matt and I had a discussion about whether or not to bring Jackson up to the big leagues if Melky Cabrera needed to spend time on the DL after he ran into the wall in Texas. Matt though he should stay down in Scranton and it appears that is the Yankees' plan, at least for the time being. It's commendable that the Yanks are taking the patient approach, but I think a large part of it is due to the fact that he is essentially the same type of player as Brett Gardner. He's fast, can get on base but has hardly any power. There are clearly some parts of his game that still need to come together, and it seems like Jackson is well aware of that:
Q (Jennings): On the whole, we're about halfway through the year, how do you think it's gone so far?

A (Jackson): I'm happy with how it's been so far. I'm not satisfied. I still think there's always room for improvement and I feel like I could always be doing better.

1 comment:

  1. Jackson jacked his third homer last night, second in as many days. Maybe they'll start to come in bunches now.

    Good point about his BABIP Jay. Yes, it's probably unsustainably high, but if you hammer down on the numbers a bit, it offers some insight as to why.

    I've tried to find what his GB%, FB%, and LD% are to estimate what his BABIP should be, but I can't find that data anywhere.