Detroit Tigers logoDetroit Tigers

Austin Jackson: Detroit Tigers Outfielder Is MLB's Most Underrated 2012 Player

Rick Osentoski/US Presswire
Rick Osentoski/US Presswire
Ely SussmanCorrespondent IJuly 12, 2012

All-Star Mike Trout has been the American League's main attraction since making his 2012 debut in late April.

Meanwhile, Austin Jackson is performing just as well for the Detroit Tigers this season.

Consider this tweet from veteran baseball writer Peter Gammons:

Did I miss Austin Jackson last night?Trout/Jackson:.341/.332, OPS .959/.953, R:57/54, RBI 40/38

— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 11, 2012

The similarities don't end there.

Trout's Los Angeles Angels are 9-14 without him in the lineup, and otherwise 39-24. The Tigers have posted a 36-27 record when Jackson starts, but only a 8-15 mark when he isn't out in center field.

Both are very young leadoff hitters. Both possess extraordinary defensive abilities.

Sensible MLB analysts believe that Trout is a legitimate candidate for the AL MVP award. So why no love for his statistical clone?

Jackson's success is overlooked by the Motown and national media, perhaps because they want to cover his superstar teammates. Detroit's roster includes a Cooperstown-bound slugger, this year's Home Run Derby champion and the world's best pitcher (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander, respectively).

But wait—doesn't the 20-year-old kid share a dugout with Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo and Jered Weaver? That's a pretty impressive trio, too.

Jackson has dramatically improved from 2011. His strikeout rate is down, while his slugging and fielding percentages are exceptional.

Only four AL position players topped his 3.5 WAR from the first half, according to Baseball-Reference.com. He leads Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson and Josh Hamilton—the league's starting outfielders from Tuesday's All-Star Game—in that category.

This phenom deserves more respect.

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices