With each passing month of Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson's career, it becomes ever more apparent that the way he tore the cover off the ball in the first month of his career was not representative of the kind of player he actually is. In fact, he has not come close to the heights he reached in the March/April days of the 2010 season.
Over the first 23 games of his career, Jackson probably did not know what the big deal about being in the Major League was all about; professional baseball, even at the highest level, was incredibly easy.
During that time span, Jackson hit .364/.422/.495 with a .410 wOBA, which is the hitting line for an All-Star and a borderline MVP candidate. Jackson's elite production was aided by an absolutely unsustainable .530 batting average on balls in play and a 37.5 line drive percentage.
For the season, Jackson hit .755/.748/1.000 with a .757 wOBA on line drives, further providing proof that line drives are the hits that help a batter the most, and he hit an inordinate amount of line drives in March and April of 2010. Since April 2010 ended, however, Jackson has yet to have a month where his line drive percentage was higher than 28.0 percent, so he has not been able to benefit from as many line drives.
Jackson's opening month of his career was so extremely not indicative of his actual talent that his next-best month, which took place in July, represents a 13.7 percent drop in his batting average (.314), a 15.2 percent decrease in on-base percentage (.358), a 6.9 percent drop in slugging percentage (.461), a 12.4 percent decrease in wOBA (.359), an 18.5 percent decrease in batting average on balls in play (.432), and a 31.5 percent decrease in line drive percentage (25.7 percent).
His other months are an even more precipitous drop off in his hitting ability, as he spent just as much time being a below-average hitter as an above-average one. Last season, the average wOBA for a player was .320; for three months he was an above-average player, and for three months, he was below-average.
Luckily for Jackson, his above-average months outshone his below-average ones, so he still finished the season with a .333 wOBA.
Jackson's struggles as a hitter continued over the first month of this baseball season, as he hit only .181/.252/.257 with a .232 wOBA. During those 27 contests, Jackson also posted the lowest batting average on balls in play of his career (.265) so it is no wonder it was another mediocre hitting month for Jackson.
With the way in which Jackson's career path is trending, his biggest struggle will not be trying to duplicate the first 23 games of his career. Instead, the biggest battle he will face is not being a below-average hitter more often than he is an above-average one.
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