First off, understand that there are center fielders who hit a lot of home runs and center fielders who don’t.
Those who do (Trout, McCutcheon, Jones) … they’re in a different category. So we’ll set them aside. Austin Jackson is not one of them.
Once we do that, then here’s what we got. And since we got it off Fangraphs.com, we’ll sort by wOBA or else they might come after us for being inadequately saber-savvy (wOBA is one way of ranking hitters that has been sufficiently massaged to pass muster with those who arbite such things):
|Adam Eaton||White Sox||87||390||1||11||8.50%||16.20%||0.094||0.358||0.296||0.362||0.390||0.337|
|Jackie Bradley Jr||Red Sox||98||348||1||7||8.30%||27.60%||0.083||0.318||0.224||0.297||0.307||0.274|
You can see that Jackson is, in fact, quite comparable to the guy that I had originally targeted: Desmond Jennings.
And how about the similarity to post-outlier-season Jacoby Ellsbury (outside of steals)?
The same Ellsbury with his name on a 7-year, $153 million contract? Yes, that guy.
In short, Jackson is right with the pack when discussing center fielders with ISO under .150. You can’t really say that any of the top seven names on that chart really distinguish themselves from the rest. And Jackson is certainly deserving of being in that group.
[Note: Michael Bourn and Dexter Fowler are two guys who would ordinarily be in that group as well. They apparently did not pop up because they are on the DL. Fowler would be near the upper end of the list and Bourn would be near the lower end.]
And it doesn’t take guesswork to conclude that Jackson belongs in this same class. He’s nearing his 3,000th plate appearance in the majors. This is a guy with a track record.
And when we look at the track record, in Part 2, we find a lot to like.
Part 2 here.