Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ajax is the Key

It seems the NL is the annual tonic for all that ails the Detroit Tigers.  Just when they looked to be in a downward spiral and out of contention, along came interleague play (and the woeful Pirates, Cubs, Rockies, and Cardinals).  The team finds themselves only 2 games out of 1st place in the AL Central after a stint where they have played at a 8/10 clip. And hey, they are scoring runs! It should be no surprise that the winning and run production began when Austin Jackson returned from the DL.

Since returning, Ajax is batting .333, has knocked in 13 runs, drawn 7 walks, and though he does not steal as much as we would all like, he, along with the surprise of Quintin Berry, has provided some much-needed speed to the top of the lineup.  He is getting on base.  He has been the table-setter.  Not to mention he is one of the better defensive CF in the AL.  It should be no surprise that having a stable bat at the lead off spot is directly resulting in more runs and more production from Miggy and Prince.  Logic tells you they have to have actual runners on base to knock in to maximize their production.

Not only does Jackson provide a consistent bat at the top of the order, he also provides extra base power.  Since his return he has hit 4 doubles and hit 2 long balls.  Last night this was on full display as he broke the game open with a 2-run double with the bases loaded.  Something the Tigers have been unable to do much of this year.

Also in these 10 games, Fister has returned, Scherzer has pitched very well, the pen has been a lot better (minus last Friday's debacle), Miggy and Fielder have been their consistent selves, Delmon Young and Boesch have shown improvement, and Quintin Berry has been a pleasant surprise by batting over .300 and providing a base-stealing threat every time he gets on base.  An element this team has lacked since, well, Tony Phillips.  Mr. Berry is daily making his case that he can be a key dynamic following Jackson at the top of the lineup and in the field each and every game.  Leyland is not exactly endorsing this sentiment (shocker) which is fueling more talk from his detractors that he is incapable of managing this team to a championship.  His apparent mancrush for Raburn is becoming borderline creepy.  However, this is a topic for another day.  I digress.

With all that seems to be making the turn for the better, I believe Jackson remains the main cog and the catalyst for a Tigers turnaround.  He started the season hot along with the team.  When he started missing games, the Tigers started plummeting.  He is now back and viola, the team looks like they possibly may be the team to beat in the AL Central after all.  Don't get me wrong, they will need the strong pitching, the pen, the supporting cast, etc. to ultimately play in October, but Jackson provides the stabilizing presence in the lead off spot and in CF that championship teams must have.  Here's to his health.  Cheers.

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