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The one-year deal to which they agreed is worth between $8 million and $12 million, per CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. The Scott Boras client was looking for a long-term package, something around $15 million annually, but logic prevailed, and he settles on joining a promising young rotation on a prove-it pact.
Nationals Park doesn't favor pitchers like Busch Stadium did, but it's generally considered neutral, and Jackson adapted to toeing the rubber in the pitcher-friendly environs of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox.
Maintaining his overall improvement in grounder inducement would go over well with his new infield defense, and a rebound in left-on-base percentage last season revealed his true potential. The highly effective two-seamer he harnessed last season tempers his K/9 upside but speaks volumes about his BB/9 maturity. Also, the 28-year-old's mid-90s fastball velocity shows he could K seven per nine frames almost by accident.
This favorable move does little to alter Jackson's value as a roster-capping mixed SP. NL drafters should feel just as confident drafting him as an SP2 or 3.
Hitting coach Lloyd McClendon advised Jackson to reduce his leg kick during his swing and, most importantly, praised Jackson's ability to repeat his swing during their recent powwow at Comerica Park for a few days in mid-January. The goal: To make the steals compiler more of a true leadoff hitter and cut down his increasing strikeout problem.
A-Jax's 2010 rookie campaign saw a .293 batting average that was inflated by a .396 BABIP. Though it dipped in his sophomore outing, that figure didn't crash toward the league normal; it settled on an above-average .340 in 2011. His liner rate tanked because of typical sophomore slump attributes, including the concerns in his hacks that warranted his recent tutorial.
Creating harder and more abundant contact through cleaner swings should push his BA back into the useful region of around .270, if not better, especially if he can recapture his effective opposite-field hitting from 2010. His speed and accompanying frequent grounder delivery foretell a consistent body of high in-play clips.
Jackson's power boosted his prospect stock, and the 10 taters he hit in 2011 were backed up by a bump in flies hit; the 25-year-old can still translate some of his athletic prowess into more yard-leaving. Prince Fielder's arrival alone provides a slight uptick to Jackson's intrigue. His runs total, already one of his consistent fanalytic offerings, will be the chief peripheral fantasy boost from the bopper's presence.
At the low end of draft-worthy mixed outfielders, Jackson hides four-category potency (with homers not far off) behind a thick layer of skepticism created by his disappointing follow-up year. His components will soon be maximized if his alterations click.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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