Key Stats: Jacoby Ellsbury made the sticky bandits from Home Alone look like butter fingers the way he was stealing bases in the first half of last season. Then the numbers took a slide (pun definitely intended) in July when he only stole one base. Only Willy Taveras and Jose Reyes stole more, but before he hit a rookie wall Ellsbury actually had more steals than Reyes.
Skeptics Say: Ellsbury was benched in favor of Coco Crisp last October and that couldn’t have been good for the confidence after Ellsbury took the job from Crisp in the previous October. Ellsbury also had a .676 OPS away from Fenway Park last season.
Peer Comparison: In the game of Ellsbury versus random player here is the optimistic take on things:
- Reyes: Ellsbury will have more RBI playing for a potent AL team. He also will be closer to Reyes in runs now that he doesn’t have to give away at bats to Crisp.
- Carlos Gomez: Ellsbury is definitely batting first and Gomez might not. Ellsbury is definitely the starter and Gomez might not. Gomez’s steals also tumbled in the second half.
- Taveras: Ellsbury is bad against left handed pitching with that OPS, but Taveras OPS against all pitchers was lower at .604
- Ryan Theriot: Only 22 steals in 08. Could be good value where you get him, but don’t draft him and expect that steals shortage to be solved.
- Jimmy Rollins still stealing bases going into his 30s, but using a late first rounder on him might not be the answer if you can use a fifth rounder on the second year guy
Team Outlook: AL MVP Dustin Pedroia will hit second behind Ellsbury. David Ortiz is said to be in better shape at spring training and will hit third. There will be plenty of protection for Ellsbury, the only concern is that he doesn’t get conservative on the bases as a result.
What They’re Saying: MLB.com: #28 Outfielder and #85 Overall; CBS Sportsline: #17 Outfielder and #87 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #57 Overall; Fox Sports: #25 Outfielder; ESPN: #21 Outfielder; Yahoo: #20 Outfielder and #51 Overall
Projection: Don’t just think of him as a one category player and blow him off. Look at the runs.
110R 9 HR 68 RBI 59 SB .287 AVG .740 OPS
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