Fantasy Fallout: Is Austin Jackson Worth Targeting In Chicago?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There have been rumblings all offseason that the White Sox were looking to upgrade their outfield, but it finally came to fruition when they inked Austin Jackson yesterday. The obvious loser is Avisail Garcia, who should see a significant drop in playing time (though he was already a significant risk and a player to avoid).  The bigger question falls on Jackson, who split time between the Mariners and Cubs in 2015 and posted the following line:

.267 (131-491), 9 HR, 48 RBI, 56 R, 17 SB

Speed
The first thing that jumps out at you is the efficiency on the bases, as he went 17-for-27 on stolen base attempts. At 29-years old it’s hard to say that he’s lost his speed (and he did miss time in the first half with an ankle injury) and he did have a noteworthy split:

  • First Half – 8-for-15 (53.3%)
  • Second Half – 9-for-12 (75.0%)

That’s certainly promising, though it’s not like he’s ever been a true difference maker in the category (career high is 27 SB, which came back in 2010). Over the past five seasons he has not posted more than 22 in a season, including years of 12 (2012) and 8 (2013). Expecting anything more than 20ish would be a mistake, and there’s a good chance he falls short of even that.

Average
He’s a career .273 hitter who has never posted a strikeout rate better than 21.0% (23.5% for his career).  Jackson has consistently posted an elevated line drive rate, with a career mark of 23.8% (24.3% in ’14), which has led to a .352 BABIP.  Obviously that’s going to help, but the strikeouts and a lack of significant power are going to keep him from hitting for an elevated average.

Power
Speaking of the power, as it is he only hit 4 HR in ’14 before his batted ball profile made it nearly impossible to hit more than a handful of home runs in 2015:

  • Groundball Rate – 51.1%
  • Flyball Rate – 24.6%

He owns a career 45.2% groundball rate and is moving to a favorable home ballpark, but once again it’s simply hard to get overly excited. Could he chip in 10-12 HR? It’s possible, but expecting anything more than that would be a mistake.

Conclusion
So what’s our quick expectation, assuming he is slotted into the lineup every day?

  • Average – .265ish
  • Power – 10-12 HR
  • Speed – 15-18 SB

That type of upside brings value, but he’s unlikely to hit in the leadoff spot (Adam Eaton) and could actually slot towards the bottom of the lineup (Melky Cabrera may be a better fit at #2).  That’s going to limit his appeal in R/RBI, further hindering him.  Put him on the same level as a Kevin Pillar and Odubel Herrera, which is a low-end option with some upside.

Source – Fangraphs

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One comment

  1. jrob23 says:

    Herrera’ a good comp but I’d still take him over Jackson. Pillar is a level above them. Basically there’s no reason to take these guys in anything but the deepest of leagues but in order: Pillar, Herrera, Jacksson imo

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