Change in approach working for Jackson

Change in approach working for Jackson

DETROIT -- The sample size for Austin Jackson's numbers are too small -- just four games' worth -- to try to determine with any authority whether the Tigers' leadoff man's hot start is a good streak of hitting everything hard, an adjustment that opponents need to work on their scouting report or a sign of a long-term growth. Still, there are trends in his favor, notably with two strikes.

More than half of Jackson's first 20 plate appearances have reached two-strike counts, including six full counts. Entering Wednesday, Jackson with 3-for-9 with two walks in two-strike counts, reaching base safely five out of 11 times with four strikeouts. He has only one strikeout on a full-count delivery.

Part of that comes from the mechanical changes he made in Spring Training to take away the big leg kick. Another part is a mental approach to not be too aggressive or too passive.

"Most of it's mental, I think," manager Jim Leyland said. "He's spread out a little bit. He's shortened up a little bit, but most of that's mental, I think."

Whether Jackson will drop to last year's levels is the question; he batted just .151 (51-for-337) with two strikes last year, including .221 (15-for-68) on full counts. He did, however, have more walks (33) than strikeouts (32) on 3-2 pitches.

"He's seeing the ball real good right now, and he's putting a good swing on it," Leyland said. "That's what he's doing. There's not a lot of rocket science to it. If you chase bad balls and you swing at bad balls outside the strike zone, you miss them. He's battling his tail off and he's fouling off some tough pitches, and then when they make a mistake, he's hit it. He's been fantastic."