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The Giants have signed Austin Jackson to a two-year, $6 million deal. The almost 31-year-old Jackson had a productive 2017 season, hitting .318/.387/.482 with seven home runs in 318 plate appearances for the Indians. However, don’t expect that type of production to continue into 2018, especially if he’s a full-time player.
On the surface, this signing looks like a good one for the Giants, but the deeper you dive in, the murkier it gets. The first major issue is that Jackson is now a defensive reliability in center field. All of the defensive metrics rate him below or way below average. The Giants may still need to bring in a legit center fielder, especially if he gets any worse.
The second major issue is that most of Jackson’s damage last season came against left-handed pitching (141 plate appearances against lefties; 171 against righties). League-wide, only 25% of all matchups are with a lefty on the mound, while Jackson was closer to 50% in 2017. Last season, he posted a 1.013 OPS against lefties. Jackson has always hit lefties well, but some regression is still coming for anyone with a 1.013 OPS. If he’s playing close to full time, his numbers against righties are going to bring down his overall production.
Both factors make it tough to see Jackson getting a full season of plate appearances in 2018.
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