Edwin Jackson has never quite reached the potential that he was expected to. He's been something of a decent mid-rotation arm, with occasional seasons looking like a little more or a little less, but it all comes back to being a little better than average, and for around 200 innings at a time.
That's not that exciting in fantasy, even if it's a useful -- and oft-underrated -- place to be in real baseball. It's better in the AL- and NL-only leagues he's pitched in, but still, it's not quite what many hoped to get out of Jackson back when he was the top-rated pitcher in the minor leagues, and the fourth prospect overall, in Baseball America's 2004 rankings. An easy way to fake that, at least for fantasy purposes, would be for Edwin Jackson to sign with the San Diego Padres, and that sounds like an entirely possible scenario this off-season.
According to Stat Corner's park effects, Petco Park reduces run production by left-handed batters by 22 percent, and right-handers by eight percent. Strikeouts are way up for both lefties and righties, as pitchers don't have to fear being punished by the long ball nearly as much as in more neutral or hitter-friendly stadiums. This leads to more challenges over the plate -- for someone like Jackson, who has allowed a career line of .276/.348/.427 against left-handers, Petco is perfect. The park will neutralize his most-significant weakness, allowing him to attack lefties more than he has in the past, and without fear of retribution-by-homer.
That's not hyperbole, either: Petco reduces homer output for left-handed batters by nearly 40 percent. That's absurd, as it takes homers away from left-handed batters at a similar rate to what Yankee Stadium 3.0 increases them. Here's the problem, though: Jackson has reportedly left the Padres behind in his search for a fourth year, meaning that they are out of the bidding for now. The dream of Jackson pretending he's as good as his numbers is dead for now.
The Cubs and Rangers, the two teams still haggling over Jackson, could also balk at three years, though. And since Jackson is just going to be 29 in 2013, it wouldn't be the worst idea for him to setup shop in San Diego for three years and put up some gaudy numbers. The next time he's a free agent, someone might be willing to give him that fourth year and even more money, as he'd be heading into his age-32 season.
If you're an NL-only owner, you should be hoping that Jackson makes his way to San Diego in the end, despite this bump in the road in negotiations. And if you're just a mixed-league player, you might want to pay attention to where Jackson is going: if he ends up in Texas, his park-adjusted numbers might look pretty, but his raw totals could be problematic in your quest for fantasy greatness.