By: Jeff Riger
Put aside the Tigers tough 5-3 loss to the Indians on Thursday night for a second. I know it’s hard to do considering how they lost the game as Justin Verlander flamed out in the bottom of the 7th inning, but I ask you to try. This blog is not about the game but rather about one of the Tigers better performers all season long. No, I’m not talking about Quintin Berry, Miguel Cabrera or even Prince Fielder, I’m referring to a player that has been just as good if not better in some situations but continues for some reason to not get the fanfare that some of the other guys have received. Of course I’m talking about Austin Jackson who went 3 for 4 last night with a walk and a RBI.
This season Jackson has been sensational! Whether it was before his DL stint or after, Jackson has continued to play flawless defense and has put up MVP caliber numbers at the plate. Before missing nearly a month with an abdominal strain Jackson was hitting .331 with an impressive .414 OBP and a .958 OPS. He was well on his way to proving that his struggles of 2011 were behind him. But could we expect it to continue after coming back from injury?
Well it has, sort of…
Jackson is hitting .303 since his injury and while his OPS has fallen to a still very respectable .861 for a leadoff man, his OBP continues to be almost .400, numbers I’m sure every Tiger fans will gladly take. Of course his play can’t just be defined by numbers. Recently Jackson saw his 16 game hit streak come to an end and base knocks were becoming more infrequent. However he still continued to come through in clutch situations, something that everybody should be ecstatic about. Bottom line, it’s pretty easy to make the argument that Jackson has been this year’s most valuable player for Detroit!
So after reading the above the next question becomes; are you finally ok with the trade that brought Jackson here?
I don’t think I have to remind anybody that Curtis Granderson continues to go deep in the Bronx and Tiger fans continue to wish he was still sporting an ole English D. It’s hard to blame them. Granderson was a Tiger through and through. He was one of the few positional players that actually came up through the Detroit system and he was fantastic for the community. No matter what Jackson does, Detroiters will never forget about Granderson and I don’t think they have to. Granderson is hitting .249 this season with 27 HR’s and 54 RBI while hitting in that 5th for the Yankees. He was a MVP candidate last season and he flashes brilliant leather just like Jackson. He has been great in New York! But do you want him back? If you got a do over and you were in charge would you make the trade again?
Jackson is cheaper, younger and right now very integral to the success of the Tigers offense. Plus we can’t forget about the other players Detroit received in that trade. Phil Coke has quickly turned into a dependable bullpen arm that can do more than just pitch to lefties while Max Scherzer seems to be inconsistent but still has crazy potential. Coke in his last 28 games is sporting an ERA of under 2 and Scherzer is 9-2 in his last 15 games and has is holding the opposition to a .233 batting average.
Fans will forever cherish what Granderson brought to Detroit and the big moments he experienced here. But it was the right move! At the time, I hated the idea of losing Granderson, especially when he was sent to the Yankees. Last season I experienced that same ache in my stomach when Granderson led the league in RBI and hit 41 bombs while Jackson struck out 181 times and hit .249 with a .317 OBP.
People were convinced Jackson could not be a lead off guy! He has changed that perception and if you give him time, if he already hasn’t, he should be able to make you forget about Granderson as well.
So what do you think? Would you make the same trade again?