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Until Significant Slowdown, Expect Austin Jackson to Remain At Leadoff For Detroit Tigers

July 23rd, 2014 at 10:27 AM
By Max DeMara

Tuesday, the surging Austin Jackson didn't do anything to hurt his chances of staying in the leadoff spot atop the Detroit Tigers' order.

Jackson was 2-5 with two runs scored in the midst of Detroit's 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, which was driven by another bullpen meltdown and the inability of the Tigers to add runs late with multiple runners on base.

None of that was Jackson's problem, though. Detroit's center fielder quietly continued to do everything his team needs him for, including getting on base and setting the tone early in the game. On the second pitch, Jackson singled sharply, getting the Tigers off on the right foot.

Since last season, there's been great debate about what to do with Jackson in the order. He struggled to hit leadoff at times, and a move down the order in the playoffs sparked some decent results. After moving around again, Jackson has seized the role. Don't look now, but his batting average is climbing again, hovering at .268 as of this morning. The power numbers are even returning, with Jackson hitting a home run on Monday.

"He's been giving us consistently good at bats, I don't know that he's done anything different mechanically," Brad Ausmus said Sunday regarding Jackson's resurgence. "The idea behind moving him was he had been there the previous few years (until the 2013 playoffs). He started out hot and really kind of cooled off, and we were just trying to search for a way to get him going, and that's what we came up with, hey, just put him in a spot he's been comfortable with."

Jackson has been so comfortable he hasn't moved, and don't count on him to be moved any time soon. As Ausmus has intimated in the past, it would take a significant cold snap to push Jackson out of the leadoff role. Even when Detroit doesn't win, Jackson has been hitting, lending to the belief he will remain the leadoff man into the future.

As long as Jackson keeps making contact, scoring runs and getting on base, there's no reason to slot him anywhere else in the order. His comfort at the top has helped make things easier for the middle and bottom of the order, as well.

Just as he has the past few seasons, Jackson will continue to be the straw that stirs the Tigers' drink, for better or for worse until further notice.

Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.

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