Evaluating Boston Red Sox OF Jacoby Ellsbury
In his third full season in the majors, people thought that Boston Red Sox OF Jacoby Ellsbury was emerging as a perennial MVP candidate. While he always had a plus glove, plus speed, and a good OBP, his 2011 season featured 32 home runs – his only season in double digits. Ellsbury was worth over nine WAR and should have been the American League MVP.
After appearing in only 74 games in 2012, some still believed in Ellsbury’s power entering 2013. With just one home run in 278 plate appearances thus far, Ellsbury has proven that his 32 home run season was a complete anomaly rather than a development in power or ability.
Ellsbury’s 2011 season is the epitome of a statistical fluke. His line drive, ground ball, and fly ball percentages were all very near his career averages. His HR/FB rate, however, was more than twice his career norm. Combining a full season of health with twice as many home runs per fly ball, Ellsbury simply enjoyed an unsustainable and unmatched run of luck.
The player that Ellsbury actually is, however, does have substantial value. Ellsbury played a full season in 2008 and 2009. He played only 18 games in 2010 and 74 games in 2012. When healthy, Ellsbury’s career ratios easily depict his value. With a .295/.349/.437 career line, Ellsbury has averaged over one steal per every three career games. Ellsbury plays a gold glove caliber centerfield, and he has improved his BB/K ratio over his career.
While Ellsbury will never get close to the nine WAR 2011 season, he will always have value as he continues defend, run, and reach base at nearly elite levels. Speed ages worse than any other skill. Ellsbury has endured a myriad of injury problems, so the Red Sox will have to hope that his speed and defense abilities stay at a high level for years to come.
Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.