Jacoby Ellsbury Player Projection No. 13

Key Stats: A season after having his heart questioned spending most of the year on the DL, Jacoby Ellsbury set career highs in four out of the five major categories. He also set a career high and had a league leading total number of plate appearances (take that Kevin Youkilis!). Nothing was more impressive than his 105 RBI out of the leadoff spot.

Skeptics Say: He won’t hit .366 with runners in scoring position again and won’t drive in 105 again for starters. Matching the home run numbers will also prove difficult. Ellsbury actually hit a lower percentage of fly balls last year, but many of his home runs were lasers, so it’s possible that he can get back to the high 20s or low 30s in terms of the home run production.

Peer Comparison: Carlos Gonzalez is going after Ellsbury at most websites, but not here. It’s hard to forget 2010 when Ellsbury did nothing and Cargo did everything. And a look at last year’s numbers if both players were on a 162-game pace indicates that the two players are very close in terms of production:

Player

Runs

RBI

HR

SB

AVG

Ellsbury

122

108

33

40

.321

Gonzalez

117

117

33

26

.295

Given that Ellsbury’s production and games played should go down next year, taking Cargo ahead of Ellsbury looks a little bit easier. Also, much of Cargo’s missed time is attributed to him crashing into a wall. Ellsbury missed time the year before because he crashed into Adrian Beltre and look at how he recovered last season.

Lineup Outlook: Hitting 30 home runs out of the leadoff spot usually means that a change in the batting order should follow, but Ellsbury and Ian Kinsler are on teams that are loaded throughout the order. That was also true of Alfonso Soriano earlier in his career when he played for the Yankees. Given Ellsbury’s comfort in the leadoff spot last season, how could the Red Sox move him this year? He also seems to be a fit for the team going lefty/righty/lefty/righty/lefty through the first five hitters.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #4 Outfielder; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #5 Outfielder & #11 Overall; Yahoo: #6 Outfielder & #12 Overall; Mock Draft Central: Mock Draft Central: #3 Outfielder & #8 Overall; RotoChamp: #9 Overall

Projection: The one part of Ellsbury’s game that we could see growth with from last year to this season is in stolen bases. Keep in mind that Ellsbury has stolen 70 and still is not 30 years old.
110 R 26 HR 83 RBI 44 SB .297 AVG .895 OPS in 680 plate appearances