It has been put forth by one poster that Jackson doesn't hit the "tough righties" and the only reason his numbers were good in the second half last year was because he didn't have to face tough righties.
I am here with FACTS to debunk that fallacy once and for all. Info courtesy of a friend with Stats Inc. Stats Pass, sorry, no links available, as thats a private account, you'll have to trust the numbers are accurate....(given to me over the phone) anyone doubting is free to go to the BB REF game logs and look it up game at a time.
1.) From May 1st through the end of the season, Jackson had the following batting line vs. RHP:
.280/.353/.467 .820 OPS
246 AB 69 Hits 19 Doubles 9 HR 35 RBI 27 walks 30 K's
Does this look like a man that can't hit righties?
Of course he mashed lefties during that time span.......330/.413/.578 .991 OPS 7 doubles, a triple, 6 homers and 20 RBI in 109 at bats.
I don't think we need to begrudge him for killing lefties. ;)
But he hit righties just fine. And he always has. He hit righties and lefties equally well in 2006 (.808-.810 OPS split) and yes he hit righties almost as well as lefties in the minors in 2005. (Minor league performance DOES have evaluation utility for all but the most myopic of people, at least when we are talking about 25 year olds in the 2nd full major league season)
In April of 2007 Jackson was playing with a hamstring injury that should have put him on the disabled list, but he played through it. Once he got over that, and got his "base" back, he hit well for most of the rest of the season. He didn't hit well just because he faced a larger percentage of lefties than usual. (58% vs RHP, 42 % vs. LHP from May 1 on) He hit well because he was mostly healthy. (later in the season he did also battle wrist and knee injuries, but he fought through those as well)
2.) The notion that Jackson can't hit "tough" righties is also a complete and utter falsehood. The two right handers that Jackson has faced the MOST in his career are Peavy and Penny, with over 20 PA's vs. both of them. I think everyone would agree these guys are pretty tough righties
Career vs. Jake Peavy .474/.524/.684
Career vs. Brad Penny .363/.417/.591
In 13 AB's vs. matt Cain he's hit .385/.467/.467
Of course there ARE righties that have owned Jackson, he's 0-11 vs. Aaron Cook and 0-10 Vs. Chad Billingsley, and only 3-15 vs. Matt Morris of all people.
It's a mixed bag.....but to put forth the notion that Jackson can't hit "tough righties" is clearly a falsehood that is easily debunked by the playing record. There are some he hits well and others he doesn't. Simple as that.
One very interesting note about Jackson is that for his career so far, he has hit power pitchers better than finesse pitchers, and flyball pitchers better than groundball pitchers.
You can see that split here:
Was he an all star? No....of course not. Has he achieved a level of performance yet myself and many others hoped and even predicted he would based on his minor league performance the scouting reports? Not Yet. I freely admit that. But was he a bad player that hurt the team? Of course not. He was a well above league average hitter from May 1st onwards and was one of the most productive hitters on the team.
Does he need to continue to improve in order to still be a valuable player, especially relative to his position? YES. He is entering his final pre-arb year, and he needs to bring his overall performance both at the plate and in the field up another level for him to be a player the team should consider investing in a longer term contract. (i.e. buying out his arb years and a year of free agency if possible).
For me personally, on the offensive side of things, I would be pretty disappointed with anything under an .850 OPS from Jackson over a full season in 2008. I would be pleased with an OPS between .850-.875 and would view that as solid improvement. Anything over .875 would have to be considered an unequivocal success. If he is not jerked in and out of the lineup, and puts up an OPS around .875 or better, the counting stats , i.e. homers, rbi, will be there.
Of course he also needs to improve some more on defense. While there are those that completely over estimate the importance of First Base defense in relation to offense in the first place, and probably criticize Jackson's defense more than it needs to be criticized, (based on objective measures he's only somewhat below average and far from the bottom of the pile) Jackson DOES need to improve a good deal at first base to be an "all around player".
He's never going to be a Mark Grace or Albert Pujols with the glove. But he's nowhere near as dreadful as some would have you believe.
I really hope, above all things, that somehow the organization sees fit to let Jackson get 600 PA's in 2008. This more than anything will put to bed once and for all the debate about what kind of player he can become, one way or the other. But MUCH more importantly, I truly believe the team will be rewarded by a much improved and more confident player that knows the team is truly behind him.
Time will tell what he can become. But what he is RIGHT NOW already has value to this team.
As my signature used at DBBP has said for a long time:
League avg for league minimum is excellent (value), league avg for 10 million?........not so much.