DETROIT -- One year ago, Austin Jackson was a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating season for the Tigers.
He hit .293 and finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting. He led the AL with 170 strikeouts, but his defense in center field was spectacular.
This season hasn't quite been the same. Jackson is hitting just .246 and the strikeouts are still an issue -- he's on pace for 178. However, the defense has still been spot-on.
The biggest issue with Jackson has been those strikeouts. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said it seemed like every time Jackson put the ball in play last season, he got a hit. Not quite, but he owned a .396 average on balls put in play.
This season, that average is down to .343. But Leyland doesn't seem too worried about Jackson, whom he has often referred to as the "catalyst" of the offense.
Last season, Jackson hit .268 on fly balls. That's down to .199 this year.
"Jackson was working underneath the ball last night," Leyland said. "He hit early BP yesterday, and during the game he was working underneath the ball too much. I just let things unfold because that's the way they work."
Jackson may be having a bit of a sophomore slump, but Leyland is not, as he often says, expecting an underclassman to play like a senior in just his second Major League season.
"That's just the way it plays sometimes," Leyland said.