Who does Austin Jackson think he is?
I tell you, these kids nowadays.
Someone should teach this rookie some manners. He’s played about a week and a half in the big leagues, and you’d think he owns the place.
It all started on Opening Day, in Kansas City.
The 23-year-old whippersnapper of a leadoff hitter and center fielder for the Tigers was in the box against Zack Greinke. Yes, THAT Zack Greinke—the one who’s stingier in giving up runs than Jack Benny was with his money.
Someone should have told Jackson, “Young man, the proper decorum is to let Mr. Greinke have his way with you in this, your first game in the major leagues.”
But instead, the snot-nosed Jackson worked Greinke to a full count, laying off pitches that were tantalizingly close to the strike zone but out of it nonetheless. Normal rookies have the courtesy to swing at those and either strike out or ground out feebly to shortstop.
Jackson got all veteran-like, as if he had the batting eye of Ted Williams or Rod Carew or Tony Gwynn. You know, guys who are in the Hall of Fame because their batting success was 35 percent or higher.
Jackson, the kid, made the defending Cy Young Award winner work for his out. No, AJ didn’t get a hit, but he sweated Greinke through seven pitches (he fouled a couple off), when most rookies would have been disposed of in less than half that many.
It wasn’t just Opening Day. Jackson’s been looking like a seasoned vet in just about every game he’s played so far. The strikeout totals are a tad elevated (11 after his first 36 ABs), but he hasn’t really looked overmatched in too many of those whiffs.
Jackson is hitting a cool .306 with an OBA of .375. He already has four multiple-hit games. Nicely done, kid.
The Man who Replaced Curtis Granderson—how much longer before we drop THAT moniker?—is slapping extra-base hits, playing solid defense, throwing runners out, and using his speed on the basepaths to make the other team nervous.
And there’s that keen batting eye, which belies his tender age.
Now I see why manager Jim Leyland was making such a fuss about Jackson’s plate discipline during spring training.
That’s all well and good, but someone really ought to teach Jackson some manners. He’s not supposed to look this polished this soon. He’s bending the learning curve unfairly toward him.
Johnny Damon, 36 years old and who knows a little about prime baseball talent, having played in Boston and New York, says Jackson will be a “superstar.” His word.
“I thought he had the stuff to be in the big leagues a couple years ago,” Damon said recently about the former Yankees prospect. “But there was no room for him in New York.”
No kidding. There’s no room for you in the Bronx unless you’re a carpetbagger from another town with “future Hall of Famer” on your résumé.
You’re not supposed to get too excited or too down on anything or anyone in this game after nine games. Sorry. Doesn’t apply here.
Austin Jackson is the real deal. He’ll make folks around Detroit forget Curtis Granderson soon enough. Because he’ll be better than Curtis when all is said and done.
The kid is rude and doesn’t know his place, but he’ll grow out of that.
He was in the big leagues all of 30 minutes and was already making Cy Young winners work like the dickens.
Someone ought to tell him.