At the 2014 MLB trade deadline the Seattle Mariners were part of a deal that included lefty ace David Price. However, the deal was a 3-team affair, one that sent M’s 2B Nick Franklin to Tampa Bay to get centerfielder Austin Jackson from the Detroit Tigers.
This move was, in theory, supposed to push the Mariners over the edge offensively in their push to the postseason.
However, in 54 games with the Mariners, Austin Jackson batted a miserable .229/.267/.260 with only 6 of his 51 hits going for extra bases.
In 2015, the Mariners are looking for a bounce back year from their 28-year old centerfielder. And, if Jackson can get back to his form from his younger days with the Tigers, he could very well be the X-factor and spark plug the M’s need offensively.
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Defensively, Jackson is solid in centerfield, covering a lot of ground even in spacious Safeco Field.
It’s his offense that will decide so much for the M’s. If Jackson can get back closer to his lifetime .402 OBP, the M’s will have their leadoff hitter and only have to think twice about his spot in the order when he needs a day off for rest. Otherwise, with Jackson at the top and Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager in the middle of the order, that leaves only 5 spots that manager Lloyd McClendon will have to finagle with.
But if Jackson can’t find his swing, and his patience, once again, it could prove a longer season for the Mariners. Without a sturdy leadoff hitter, McClendon would be forced to jumble around the lineup, trying to play platoon splits and matchups day in and day out. Now, that isn’t always a bad thing, but this M’s squad is looking for consistency from its veterans.
Austin Jackson doesn’t need to go crazy in 2015 to be the valuable X-Factor that will push the Seattle Mariners into the playoffs. A .270/.350/.395 triple slash to go with his defense would do more than enough for a Mariners offense that looks to be significantly improved in the coming season.