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MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Austin Jackson is the most important Tiger

Joe Nathan is ahead of Mariano Rivera's save percentage.

June 24, 2012|By Phil Rogers
  • Austin Jackson watches his two-run double during the second inning of a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Austin Jackson watches his two-run double during the second inning of a… (Carlos Osorio / Associated…)

Despite all the talk about Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, no one is more important to the Tigers than leadoff man Austin Jackson. Detroit entered the weekend six games above .500 with him in the lineup and seven under without him.

The Rangers' Joe Nathan has replaced Mariano Rivera in having the best career rate of converting save opportunities. He entered the weekend at .8932, ahead of Rivera's .8923. Very impressive.

Only four players have hit 100-plus home runs with at least three teams — Darrell Evans, Reggie Jackson, Alex Rodriguez and Jim Thome.

It will be a shame if Mike Trout and Bryce Harper aren't named to play in the All-Star game. Neither was on an opening day roster, but both have earned it with their play since arriving.

The Rays aren't as solid on defense as they usually are. They have given up 38 unearned runs, the most in the majors, and B.J. Upton's shaky play in center is really hurting them.

Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki entered the weekend with a .206 on-base percentage since being dropped back into the leadoff spot June 1. He never walks, which is a big problem for a leadoff guy.

The Rockies starters were averaging only 5.19 innings per start when Manager Jim Tracy announced he was going to a four-man rotation, which would not include opening day starter Jeremy Guthrie. Only three other teams (1977 Mariners, 2003 Rangers and '07 Rangers) have fewer innings from their starters. The key to this plan working out will be the long relievers, Guthrie and Guillermo Moscoso.

The future of the Pirates' pitching staff — Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon — will be on display in the Futures game July 8 in Kansas City, Mo.

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