Skip to content

Tigers bring in “baserunning consultant” to get Austin Jackson running more

Feb 12, 2013, 11:51 AM EDT

Austin Jackson Getty Getty Images

In an effort to get center fielder Austin Jackson to steal more bases the Tigers have brought Jeff Cox to spring training as a “baserunning consultant.”

Jim Leyland explained the plan to Tom Gage of the Detroit News:

I’m not being critical, because I don’t mean for it to be critical, but with Jackson, it’s been a confidence factor. What happens in general with players is that guys don’t want to get thrown out. They don’t want that embarrassment. …

But there are times you want to take that gamble, which means he should have a better feel for it. … I would [like Jackson to steal more bases]. That’s basically what we are saying. The better way to put it is that I would like him to steal more important bases. I’ve always said that to steal a base when everybody knows you’re going to try, that’s when you are a base stealer.

It’s not quite “Best Shape of His Life” territory as far as spring training cliches go, but wanting a speedy player to steal more bases is a very common plan for teams in February and March every year. Sometimes it happens, more often it doesn’t, and then everyone forgets about the whole thing by the time spring training rolls around the next year.

As for Jackson, he’s never really been an effective basestealer. Through three seasons in the majors he’s stolen 20 bases per 150 games while being successful just 75 percent of the time. Last year that included going 12-for-21, which is terrible. In the minors Jackson had a much better success rate, but hardly piled up big steal totals with 25 in 135 games at Triple-A and 19 in 131 games at Double-A.

Stealing more bases at a better rate would be nice for Jackson, but the much more important issue will be whether or not he can maintain last season’s .377 on-base percentage after getting on base at a .331 clip in his first two seasons.

  1. historiophiliac - Feb 12, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    Hmmm, not exactly the player I would pick as needing baserunning consultations first….

    When they bring in a “sliding consultant” to work with Fielder, I hope there is video! Lots and lots of video. Fielder-bowling!

    • dan1111 - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      Don’t worry; they hired a basejogging consultant for Fielder.

      • weaselpuppy - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:47 PM

        If you watched any games, you’d see Fielder busting his ass down the line every single time..he plays full out 100%…he’s a big fella, but he doesn’t jog anything out…

      • stlouis1baseball - Feb 12, 2013 at 1:13 PM

        Dan…Prince goes all out…all the time. And if you are sleeping he will grab extra base.
        He may be a large mammal…but the dude can run. As far as large mammals go anyway.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 12, 2013 at 1:24 PM

        It’s the stopping that’s the problem for him.

      • hodaghunter - Feb 12, 2013 at 5:34 PM

        No one has perfected the face first base-sliding flop better than Fielder.

  2. Detroit Michael - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    Good, glad to see they have recognized a problem. Given Jackson’s fielding range, triples, BABIP, etc., he sure seems to be fast on the diamond in respects other than steals. As the article mentions, both the number of steals and his stolen base % were pretty bad in 2012. He could definitely use some coaching at base stealing technique.

    Hopefully, Jesus Montero is not the new baserunning consultant!

  3. geoknows - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    If Jackson is concerned about being embarrassed, he has picked the wrong occupation. It’s a sport where you can expect to fail 70% of the time.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 12, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      Isn’t Leyland sweet?

  4. sagnam - Feb 12, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    The Tigers seem to perfer hit-and-runs over straight steals. I’d be curious to know how many of those caught stealings were actually failed hit-and-runs.

    • weaselpuppy - Feb 12, 2013 at 6:20 PM

      98% of the CS for Miggy, Avila, Prince, Peralta, Laird, Kelly, Elmon were H & R fails fo sho.

  5. albertmn - Feb 12, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Some guys just aren’t good at stealing bases, regardless of speed. They just aren’t as good at reading the pitcher and getting a good jump. I would say the jump is almost more important than the speed. If they can teach him to read the pitchers and get a jump, he can steal more. If not, he won’t, regardless of speed.

    • jwbiii - Feb 12, 2013 at 4:28 PM

      There are two real things a baserunning coach can do.

      First, most players don’t take big enough leads. A body length with an arm extended and a step means that all you have to do to beat a pick off throw is a make a cross over step and fall. If you can push off after your cross over step and slide, that’s a few more feet.

      Second, the umpire is watching the same thing as the baserunner to determine whether a pitcher balks, but they have different perspectives. Teaching a baserunner to translate what a balk looks like from a point of view 12 feet or so off the bag is difficult, but that’s the difference between getting a good jump and a bad jump.

      Teams that Davey Lopes has coached have shown marked improvement in baserunning efficiency, so these things can be taught.

  6. flosox - Feb 12, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    I picture this consultant to look like “The Bob’s” in Office Space…

  7. 4cornersfan - Feb 12, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    I hear that the Yankees are bringing in Manny as a motivational baserunning instructor for Cano this year.

    • louhudson23 - Feb 13, 2013 at 8:04 AM

      It would not take much to improve. Actually,a fairly simple directive,if followed,would do it. “Swing,and upon contact, run like hell”. Obtaining this skill would be a vast improvement for the constantly gazing(sometimes raking) Cano.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Red Sox shopping Lester and Lackey
Top 10 MLB Player Searches