If there ever was a player to make you scratch your head during your fantasy baseball draft this year, it is Jacoby Ellsbury.
Which center fielder will show up this year for the Boston Red Sox? Will it be the player who was arguably one of the top several position players in 2011, or the player who missed major parts of 2010 and 2012 due to injury? Both your season and the Red Sox might hinge on the answer to that question.
Ellsbury’s 2011 season was the kind that fantasy managers dream about: 32 HRs, 105 RBIs, 39 steals, 119 runs, and a batting average of .321. If he wasn’t the fantasy MVP that year, he had to be very close.
But in 2012, he was injured while trying to break up a double play when Reid Brignac fell on Ellsbury’s shoulder and caused a serious injury. When he returned to the lineup, Ellsbury seemed to have lost his power and his interest in stealing, since it would involve sliding.
Two years earlier, he missed most of the season due to multiple rib injuries suffered during a collision with teammate Adrian Beltre’ in April. Were these just two freak injuries, or is there an issue with his durability? That is the big question.
This spring, he has been drafted around the 40th position, behind Bryce Harper and Adam Jones, but ahead of Yoenis Cespedes and B. J. Upton. This seems to be a round or so too early to me. Even if he has fully recovered from his injuries, I am still concerned that he might be playing cautiously, which could considerably cut down on his productivity.
Besides, is there still some kind of jinx still following the Red Sox? Both David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks also missed quite a few games with injury last year.
The bottom line for me this year is that I think I will pass on Ellsbury.