Even within times of change, some things just always stay the same.
While much of the focus about the 2013 Boston Red Sox has been their surprising run atop the competitive AL East and specifically how they’ve done it with so many new faces on the team, a large — and almost underrated part — of the success that they’ve had has come from the table-setters atop the lineup.
Of course, I’m referring to Jacoby Ellsbury, long the designated spark plug of the team (when he’s been healthy enough, anyway). Finally playing in a season mostly at full health after missing nearly half of 2012 due to an ailing shoulder, the center fielder is well on his way to the season best season of his career … even if not everyone is noticing it.
Buried behind the buzz of Jose Iglesias and his .409 average, the heroism of Dustin Pedroia leading the team on offense while playing with a nasty-sounding thumb injury, and the timeless wonder that is David Ortiz, Ellsbury has just been going about his business the way he’s always done.
And business, as they say, is booming.
Capping his June off with a 1 for 3 day that included a walk, Ellsbury is simply on a tear. Not only did he stretch his current hitting streak to 11, he’s successfully recorded a knock in all but three of his 23 games played. Not surprisingly, he leads the teams in runs (21), doubles (eight) and hits (36) over the month, and his plate discipline is as good as ever, striking out just 10.2 percent of the time — a season-low.
Combine that with the fact that he’s hitting a season-high 26.4 percent line drives over June, and you’ve got what you might call an ideal leadoff man.
With his fantastic .360/.414/.480 triple slash in June lifting his overall numbers to more desirable levels after a pedestrian May, as well as his blazing, game-changing speed and instincts on the basepaths, Ellsbury might just be the most important threat that the Red Sox have right now, if only because he’s capable of creating his own offense.
No, it’s likely that his near-MVP, 32-home run season was simply a mirage as far as the power goes, but when a player’s got as many tools as Ellsbury does, that hardly seems to matter at this point, no?