Jackson fell behind Clay Buchholz 0-2 but managed to fight back in the at bat to draw a walk. Jackson is on pace for 17 home runs and 74 RBI in 2012, both career highs, but he is also on pace to strikeout out only 126 times, or 55 fewer than in 2011.
Not an enormous difference, but progress nonetheless.
His work with Lloyd McClendon in the off season focused around eliminating his leg kick and the results have been tied mostly to the change. However Jackson’s improved numbers may also be partially due to one other key factor: experience.
Does having another year of big league experience make a difference? “I think it does a little bit,” Jackson said. “Just having more at bats and getting to see a lot of the pitchers a few more times has definitely helped me.”
Jackson has also noticed that pitchers will try to get him out by leaving the strike zone, a strategy that worked last year and resulted in the high strikeout numbers. “Sometimes I feel like they try to get me to swing at elevated fastballs,” he said. His improved patience and strike zone awareness has served him well this season.
With Jackson’s high average and more beefy home run numbers, a move lower in the lineup may be in his future. For this Tigers team though, Jackson likes where he sits in the lineup card.
“I definitely feel comfortable hitting leadoff,” he said. “I think it’s something I have grown into. “You never know what the team’s needs will be in the future though, only time will tell.”
For now Jackson’s improvement has helped fuel RBI opportunities for those that hit behind him. His improved offensive numbers will also serve him well when Gold Glove awards are handed out in the future.
Halfway into his third big league season, Jackson has become one of the American League’s more dynamic players.