Jacoby Ellsbury really confuses me. Is he supposed to be like Kenny Lofton, a great leadoff hitter with top notch speed and no power? Or is he supposed to be some kind of Alfonso Soriano, an annual threat to hit 30 home runs and steal 40 bases?
What has me all confused is his 2011 season. During that campaign, Ellsbury uncharacteristically hit 32 home runs and knocked in 105 RBIs. He also stole 39 bases and hit for a .321 average. He had never done anything like this at any level in his career up until that point. It seemed as if the Boston Red Sox had the next great five-tool player for years to come.
Well, I’m not quite sure what happened to that guy from 2011, but it’s becoming more obvious everyday that the real Ellsbury is your contact-hitting, base-stealing, run-scoring leadoff hitter.
This is Ellsbury’s sixth MLB season. He had more home runs in the 2011 season than the other five seasons combined. I’m not going to make any accusations, but it seems as if Ellsbury may have been getting some “extra help” that year. You don’t go from hitting eight home runs in a season to 32, then back down to four.
That’s not to say that this type of player isn’t valued though. The list goes on and on of great players who have been the catalyst for their teams by doing exactly what Ellsbury is doing this season. The Red Sox’ leadoff hitter is one of the hottest in baseball right now. He’s hit in 19 straight games, including a two-hit performance in which he hit his third home run of the season in yesterday’s 8-7 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Something has happened to Ellsbury in the last month. He seems like a player who has something to prove, largely because he does.
This is a contract year for Ellsbury, and hitting .240 as he was in late May, simply isn’t going to get him paid. Perhaps it’s the fact that the Red Sox are heavily invested in Jackie Bradley Jr., but Ellsbury has been vocal about staying on the field and working through injuries that probably would have kept him sidelined in the past.
Whatever it is, let’s hope he keeps it up.