The Giants don’t seem to be done with their offseason rebuild. The team announced the signing of veteran Austin Jackson on Wednesday.
The San Francisco Giants were one of the worst teams in the league last season. Outside of Buster Posey, there was very little fantasy value on the team. The front office knew a change needed to be made. After trading for Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, the team signed Austin Jackson. How will he fair in the Bay Area?
Jackson will be the starting center fielder for the Giants. He is expected to hit at the bottom of the order, limiting his at-bats compared to his teammates hitting higher in the order. Fangraphs has an extensive piece talking about the difference between hitting first and ninth. The difference on a per-game basis is 4.65 AB/G for leadoff and 3.77 AB/G for the ninth hitter, almost a full at-bat per game. That equals to about 143 at-bats over a full season, but I’m getting off track.
The benefit though is that he joins an improved Giants lineup. With Longoria and McCutchen now on the team and Posey, Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence still in the fray, Jackson will get his opportunity for a good pitch or two and drive in some runs.
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Jackson will turn 31 days after this piece publishes. He lost his speed over the last couple of seasons, stealing a combined five bases in the last two years. He stole 17 in the previous season. But he was able to cut down on his strikeouts last year. Jackson struck out a total of 758 times in his first 724 games.
Jackson hit well in his shortened 2017 season with the Cleveland Indians. He had limited playing time in April and missed 23 games between June and July. Jackson hit .318/.387/.482 with seven home runs, 35 RBIs and 46 runs scored.
After the year he had in 2016, .254/.318/.343 in 54 games, no one wanted to draft him. He had a 260.0 ADP in ESPN leagues. Jackson finished No. 198 among hitters on the Player Rater last season. With just 85 games played, it’s expected he finishes that low. If he were to play a full season, he may have moved up to the top 150.
However, according to San Francisco Chronicle writer John Shea, Jackson may not be the only one to play in center field for the Giants. He tweeted that Jackson will provide additional depth at all three outfield positions. This means that he will likely platoon with someone in center to be a backup for the other two outfielders. That cuts into his fantasy value some.
I don’t think Jackson plays a full season again this year but will break 100 games. Fans has higher expectations that Steamer for his 2018 projections. I fall somewhere in between. I think a .270 average with six home runs, 45 RBIs and 44 runs scored is reasonable.
If you need a full-time starter, Jackson isn’t your answer. But as a fill-in or DFS option, he still has some value.