Sunday, August 07, 2011
Jacoby Ellsbury Emerging As An Elite Player
Against the Yankees yesterday, Jacoby Ellsbury belted a home run and drove in six runs to help the Red Sox to a 10-4 victory.
The performance exemplified the stellar season the Red Sox' leadoff hitter is having.
Ellsbury is batting .321 with 19 homers, 72 RBIs and 31 stolen bases. Incredibly, 13 of those home runs have come in the last month.
Prior to this year, Ellsbury's single season highs were nine home runs (2008) and 60 RBI (2009). In fact, Ellsbury's career home run total was just 20; he is now just two home runs away from surpassing that total.
Remarkably, Ellsbury has more homers than proven sluggers Adrian Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez, Matt Holliday, Jayson Werth and Adam Dunn.
Frankly, Ellsbury looks as much like a middle-of-the-order hitter as a leadoff hitter.
Ellsbury hit eight home runs in July, the second highest by any Red Sox center fielder in one month since 1946. In May 2000, Carl Everett had nine.
The Sox' center fielder has suddenly emerged as a super star.
Among all Major Leaguers, Ellsbury is 20th in slugging, 16th in RBI, 9th in batting, 6th in steals, 5th in doubles, 4th in hits and 2nd in runs.
The most stunning aspect is that he's a leadoff hitter.
If he continues to play this way, Ellsbury will likely be among the Most Valuable Player Award candidates at season's end.
Ellsbury becomes a free agent following the 2013 season, meaning the Red Sox have him under their control for just two more years. After that, he will be available to the highest bidder.
Ellsbury will be 30-years-old at that time, and given that Scott boras is his agent, he will become a very rich man.
The Sox certainly have the money to pay Ellsbury. But if Carl Crawford is worth $142 million, how much is Ellsbury worth?
It seems the Sox shot themselves in the foot with the Crawford deal.
His poor 2011 season aside, it's hard to see how Crawford ever lives up to that contract. No player who had ever failed to hit at least 20 homers in a season had previously been given a $20 million-per-year deal.
A contract of that size is certainly a lot to live up to, and already it appears to be weighing on Crawford.
The Crawford pact has totally altered the baseball landscape. Not only had the left fielder never hit 20 home runs in a season, he had never driven in 100 runs, never slugged .500, never had an OBP above .364 and never had 200 hits in any season.
On the other hand, Ellsbury is on the verge of doing all of that.
Crawford's greatest assets are his speed and defense. Yet, this season, Crawford has just 85 hits, 17 doubles and 13 stolen bases. His base-stealing prowess has been diminished by a meager .287 OBP.
What's more, playing in Fenway Park's shallow left field has muted most of Crawford's speed and defensive skills. Simply put, those skills are being wasted in at least 81 home games a season.
Boras will surely use Crawford as a yardstick for his client. But given that Ellsbury is excelling in areas that leadoff hitters aren't normally expected to, Boras may also compare his client to middle-of-the-order hitters, like Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira, both of whom got substantially bigger contracts than Crawford.
It's worth saying again; Ellsbury is poised to become an exceedingly rich man at just 30-years of age.
The Red Sox may ultimately regret Carl Crawford's excessive contract; not just because he'll likely fail to earn it, but because of how much it will cost to retain Ellsbury just two years from now.
Having proved himself to be among the elite players in the game today, the emerging super star, Ellsbury, is earning it — unlike Crawford.