Austin Jackson is off to a fine start in his rookie season. We were told he was ready to be a major league center fielder but he has exceeded expectations so far. It's too early to look at any defensive numbers but he appears to have very good extincts and his range looks exceptional. He is also producing offensively. With two more hits tonight, he is now batting .325 with a .385 on-base percentage. He's even showing some power with eight extra base hits and a .470 slugging average.
The only chink in his armor so far has been his eye raising 32 strikeouts in 19 games. He struck out twice tonight stretching his strikeout streak to 19 games. According to retrosheet, no player has struck out in that many consecutive games to begin his career since 1952 (day by day logs are not available prior to that season). He is on a pace for 259 strikeouts which would blow away Mark Reynolds's record setting 223 whiffs last year.
The strikeouts are a concern but they would be a bigger concern if he was not also on a pace to get 219 hits. It's been feast or famine for Jackson in April. The speedy outfielder has 27 hits and 32 strikeouts in 83 at bats. So, he has had only only 24 at bats that have been not hits or strikeouts. That translates into a .500 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). If you've heard people say that a .500 BABIP is not sustainable, it's because no player has finished above .400 since Jose Hernandez had a .404 BABIP for the Brewers in 2002.
What's the closest anybody has ever come to a 200 hit 200 strikeout season? According to Lee Sinnis's Baseball Encyclopedia, Bobby Bonds had 200 hits and 189 strikeouts in 1970. Reynolds had only 150 hits to go with his 223 strikeouts last year. Obviously, Jackson won't keep up his strikeout or BABIP pace for the whole season and it's highly unlikely he'll be the first 200/200 man but he's had a pretty bizarre start to his rookie season. And overall, it's been a very good one.