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Austin Jackson Is Outplaying Curtis Granderson

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Austin Jackson / Associated PressIt's astonishing to see Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson produce this much, this early. Opposing pitchers are still trying to figure him out, and although he still leads the American League in strikeouts, he's a big reason why the Tigers are rallying from behind practically every night.

And I never thought I'd be saying this in May 2010, but … he's playing better than Curtis Granderson.

For months I was trying to convince every weeping soul around me to buy into the rationale for the Granderson trade. It went as follows: the team was gonna suck next year anyway, Grandy's contract would hurt the team in future seasons, this makes us much better in 2011, and for the love of Harwell, STOP CRYING. Of course, that argument was thrown off the top of the Renaissance Center once the team shelled over $22 million for a closer and an aging left fielder.

Suddenly the trade wasn't a rebuilding gambit. They were actually trying to compete in 2010. With a 23-year-old center fielder and leadoff hitter. Instead of Curtis freaking Granderson.

I was shocked. I was sad. Until they started playing baseball games.

Sure, a month does not a conclusion make, but let's compare the two statistic lines of our center fielding stalwarts so far (stats through Thursday, April 29):

Jackson: .330/.394/.468, 1 HR, 4 SB, 10 BB, 32 K
Granderson: .230/.313/.392, 2 HR, 4 SB, 9 BB, 16 K

Okay, so Grandy has hit sort of a cold spell. After a hot start, he has just two hits in his last 30 at bats, while Jackson has five two-hit games in that same span. What about defense?

Jackson: 2 assists, 1 errors, 3.1 UZR, 2.78 RF/9
Granderson: 2 assists, 0 errors, 1.4 UZR, 2.79 RF/9

The range factors are about the same, and even though ultimate zone rating is flawed when looking at it with such a small sample, they're both superb fielders. And defense doesn't slump.

A lot of other factors are mixed into the reason for the team's success (read: everybody who isn't a starting pitcher or Gerald Laird). But Jackson has surprisingly caught the baton handed off by Granderson in both the lineup and the field. Hell, he's caught everything else. Now he just needs to start a charity.

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  • Tigerfan

    While it might be hindsight now, I had been saying since the late 2008 season the Tigers needed to get rid of Granderson because he had peaked and had trouble hitting lefties. His value was at the highest it was going to be for the Tigers. For what it’s worth I was for getting rid of Ordonez after 2007, when he hit .363. Anyway, Austin Jackon has me saying, “Curtis who?” The Tgers did the right thing this time and got maximum value for Granderson-Jackson and Phil Coke. These two will have much more of an impact on the Tigers this season than Granderson would ever had.

  • YankeeFan

    “and although he still leads the American League in strikeouts”

    Hello, regression

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    You’d think so, but his strikeouts are quickly dwindling. After getting at least one in his first twentysomething games, he had four games without a K and his average has gone even further up. He had a five-hit game on Friday.

  • http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/hardball/up_hughes_vs_santana_granderson_HsTGIgXZIHhBdn2UxDJ90I YouDontUnderstandStats

    Right now, Jackson has a .527 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), and that is simply unsustainable, so that .367 average – second in the majors to Cano’s .387 – is probably going to fall significantly (Cano’s BABIP, for example, is .365). Meanwhile, Jackson’s 34 strikeouts – the AL-high – could be revelatory over the long season.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    You sure put me in my place with someone else’s words!

    So who’d they call up from Triple-A to fill in for Granderson’s absense?

  • http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/hardball/up_hughes_vs_santana_granderson_HsTGIgXZIHhBdn2UxDJ90I YouDontUnderstandStats

    You act like I didn’t link Shermans article in the NYPOST…click on my user name

    Gardner moves to CF. Thames and Winn’s playing time increases.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Hey, I can copy/paste too. In fact, read beyond your quoted portion:

    “However, within the first month there has been some stuff to suggest Yankee problems with the deal. For example, they thought Granderson was going to be the better defender than Jackson, but scouts who have seen both this year are not sure of that. Granderson still has a tendency off the bat to not get a great read on flyballs. Also, the Yanks figured Jackson would hit for a better average than Granderson over time. But they also thought they could improve Granderson’s batting average by getting him to be more competent against lefties.

    But before going on the DL, Granderson was at just .161 vs. lefties this year with 11 strikeouts in 31 at-bats. That was even worse than the .183 with 42 strikeouts in 180 at-bats last year.”

    I know all too well that to nullify Granderson in the game, just put a lefty, any lefty, on the mound.

    And I know that Jackson’s not going to hit .368 all year. But looking at the way he gets his hits, it reminds me of a right-handed Ichiro. He’ll probably finish at .300, maybe a little below.

  • Drew

    Yankee fans always have an excuse. Get over it NY, AJax is going to be the Rookie of the Year, and a better player than Curtis. 144 points higher batting average, and 110 points better in OBP. It isn’t even close. Curtis was overrated in Motown, and he’s overrated in NYC, as much as I hate to say it bc he is a great guy. AJax>Curtis