Austin Jackson's New Approach at the Plate Paying Dividends

Ryan BourdeauCorrespondent IIApril 17, 2012

It's still very early in the year, but Austin Jackson is really getting my hopes up.

When Detroit traded away my favorite player at the time in Curtis Granderson after the 2009 season, I was convinced the Tigers would not be able to recover from losing such a great center fielder and leadoff hitter, who was just getting ready to hit his prime.

Then I heard about this prospect named Austin Jackson that they were getting in return, and was a bit more upbeat about the trade. Until I saw him hit.

Jackson has spent the last couple of seasons near the top of the strikeout leader board, and although his play in the field has been spectacular, he could not have been more frustrating as a leadoff hitter.

Enter Lloyd McClendon, the Tigers' hitting coach, who decided it was time to reconfigure Jackson's approach at the plate. After 10 regular season games, the new approach appears to be a smashing success.

McClendon spent the offseason focusing on getting rid of Jackson's high leg-kick at the plate, which has allowed him to have a more compact swing and quicker hands. He still leads the team in strikeouts as of right now, but he's also hitting .405 and is leading the team in walks, hits and runs scored.

He has an on-base percentage of .511, and if he can keep getting on base that frequently for a full season with the stacked lineup behind him, the Tigers will be incredibly hard to beat.