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Monday, October 01, 2012

Making Sense of Jacoby Ellsbury’s Enigmatic Career

At his best, it is evident what the center fielder can be. His tools give him the potential to impact the game as dramatically as almost anyone in baseball (save perhaps for Krypton native Mike Trout), something that became dazzlingly apparent in a 2011 season when Ellsbury finished second in the AL MVP race.

But this year, that dynamic talent has rarely been seen in the fashion that made Ellsbury’s last season so captivating. He’s capable of being a 30/30 player. But his career suggests that it’s impossible to bank on such a level of performance.

His numbers from a career that saw him make his major league debut at age 23 and now has him wrapping up his age 28 season: A .297 average, .350 OBP, .443 slugging mark, .792 OPS with 56 homers (16 per 162 games) and 189 steals (53 per 162). Ellsbury has a career OPS+ of 107, meaning that his OPS (adjusted for parks) is 7 percent better than the league average.

Such numbers still put him in respectable company but do not necessarily merit superstar status. Since 1995 (the post-strike era), Ellsbury is one of 11 outfielders who, between ages 23-28, had an OPS+ of 100-115 (meaning an OPS that rated as league-average to 15 percent better than league average) with 100 or more stolen bases in at least 2,000 plate appearances.

Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:59 AM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: 2013 free agents, red sox, scott boras, taco bell

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:24 PM (#4250033)
Next year will tell the story.
   2. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:32 PM (#4250042)
yaz

i had to stop saying that about glenn braggs.
   3. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4250060)
Krypton native Mike Trout

Rates a hah.
   4. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4250065)
I feel like every day I get more and more convinced that I want the Sox to pursue BJ Upton. While Upton is a flawed player I think his youth really works in his favor. The other thing about him is that I think signing him would speak well that the organization wasn't trying to win the PR war in the off-season. There would be a LOT of criticism if they signed him ("hey great, another TB outfielder, it worked so well last time") but I think it would be a move with a good chance of success.
   5. zack Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4250074)
Ellsbury is Russian?

I thought only foreigners could be enigmatic.
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4250075)
I feel like every day I get more and more convinced that I want the Sox to pursue BJ Upton.


What is part 2 of that plan? Which player do you move off of CF? or do you trade Ellsbury?
   7. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4250083)
Phase Two: ???

Phase Three: Profit!
   8. Arva Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:28 PM (#4250097)
I feel like every day I get more and more convinced that I want the Sox to pursue BJ Upton.


Ironic, considering the article title. "If you think Ellsbury is enigmatic, just wait til you get a load of BJ Upton..."
   9. GEB4000 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:30 PM (#4250102)
Is enigmatic a synonym for injury-prone?
   10. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:43 PM (#4250120)

What is part 2 of that plan? Which player do you move off of CF? or do you trade Ellsbury?


Probably Upton if I truly believe that Bradley is ready for 2014. I think there is no chance of Ellsbury being here after 2013 so I probably go L-R Ellsbury/Upton/Ross.

Admittedly this is just off the cuff though. I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about the off-season moves or the impact on the club. So far my thoughts are;

1. Bring back Ortiz. Whether he deserves it or not the Sox are going to stink and I need something to root for. A farewell tour isn't the worst way to spend a year.

2. Play Iglesias everyday and find out.

3. Um...profit!
   11. Nasty Nate Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4250130)
Probably Upton if I truly believe that Bradley is ready for 2014. I think there is no chance of Ellsbury being here after 2013 so I probably go L-R Ellsbury/Upton/Ross.

Admittedly this is just off the cuff though.


It's so off-the-cuff that you contradict yourself about which player moves to LF within 2 sentences! J/K. I'm guessing you will be in the minority of Sox fans in wanting Bossman Junior to be signed.
   12. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:01 PM (#4250139)
Actually that two sentences accurately reflects my thought process even though you're right, they are contradictory. At first it was Upton but as I thought about it I felt "I'm signing a center fielder, I should put him in center."

I agree I would be in the minority. That's part of what I got at when I noted that it would be a change from the recent "let's win December!" mindset the organization has gotten into too much. If it's the right move, it's the move that should get made.
   13. jmurph Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:04 PM (#4250141)
I'm guessing you will be in the minority of Sox fans in wanting Bossman Junior to be signed.


I'm in that minority, too, though I admittedly have no idea what kind of deal he'll be able to get.
   14. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:09 PM (#4250150)
To me Ellsbury = Darin Erstad
   15. Nasty Nate Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:16 PM (#4250157)
At first it was Upton but as I thought about it I felt "I'm signing a center fielder, I should put him in center."

I agree I would be in the minority. That's part of what I got at when I noted that it would be a change from the recent "let's win December!" mindset the organization has gotten into too much


I think signing Upton to play CF would be repeating the mistakes of signing a guy for a position at which they already have a solid player (Cameron signing) and wasting a speedy outfielder in LF (Crawford, Cameron signing again).
   16. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4250164)
2. Play Iglesias everyday and find out.

Iglesias looked amazing in the few games I watched in Baltimore. Is there any chance he'll be able to put up an OPS in the .650-.700 range?
   17. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:39 PM (#4250182)
I think signing Upton to play CF would be repeating the mistakes of signing a guy for a position at which they already have a solid player (Cameron signing) and wasting a speedy outfielder in LF (Crawford, Cameron signing again).


Unlike Ellsbury/Crawford you could move Upton to right field. From what I've read about Bradley's arm that may be an option with him as well. Also, with Crawford/Ellsbury you had a multi-year situation at work, in this case you've got a one year situation. The "worst" case is you are able and willing to keep Ellsbury AND Bradley pans out. If the Sox head to 2014 with an outfield of Ellsbury, Upton and a Bradley/Ross platoon, they are probably in good shape.

The reason the Cameron/Crawford moves didn't work is because the guys sucked. If Upton comes in and hits .250 with 25 homers and plays very good defense that's not a problem.

EDIT: And like I said, I'm off the cuff here. I'm assuming Upton's not getting an 8 year, $150 million deal and I'm pretty sure 3/36 ain't getting it done either. Somewhere in that wide range is a sweet spot.
   18. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:44 PM (#4250187)
Iglesias looked amazing in the few games I watched in Baltimore. Is there any chance he'll be able to put up an OPS in the .650-.700 range?


Boy if he can get to .700 in this environment I'll do cartwheels. From what I've seen of him I think his offense is going to look a lot like Alex Gonzalez' with doubles more than home runs which probably puts it down in the .600-.650 range.
   19. Nasty Nate Posted: October 01, 2012 at 03:53 PM (#4250197)
The reason the Cameron/Crawford moves didn't work is because the guys sucked. If Upton comes in and hits .250 with 25 homers and plays very good defense that's not a problem.


Well, the reason the 'Let's win December!' moves didn't work is because those guys sucked. If Hamilton comes in and puts up a couple of monster hitting seasons, his $25m price tag is not a problem.

To be honest, I doubt the Sox sign either Upton or Hamilton.

Since they got rid of Beckett, maybe they should go full circle and re-acquire Anibal Sanchez.
   20. SG Posted: October 01, 2012 at 04:48 PM (#4250268)
Iglesias has a .589 OPS in 783 AAA PA. What's the best MLB career by a player who couldn't muster a .600 OPS in AAA? Not trolling, just curious.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: October 01, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4250278)
OPS+ of 107, meaning that his OPS (adjusted for parks) is 7 percent better than the league average.

Grrr ... no.
   22. PreservedFish Posted: October 01, 2012 at 05:01 PM (#4250282)
The great Rey Ordonez mustered a 554 OPS in AAA, 634 overall in the minors. WAR has him as replacement level. It was a lot of fun watching him field. And endless aggravation watching him hit.
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 05:05 PM (#4250287)
Iglesias has a .589 OPS in 783 AAA PA. What's the best MLB career by a player who couldn't muster a .600 OPS in AAA? Not trolling, just curious.

I would think Brendan Ryan is Iglesias' absolute, tippy-top, upside. He OPSed 644 in AAA, and 750ish in A and AA. Iglesias was only at 672 in AA.
   24. Nasty Nate Posted: October 01, 2012 at 05:18 PM (#4250300)
Iglesias has a .589 OPS in 783 AAA PA. What's the best MLB career by a player who couldn't muster a .600 OPS in AAA? Not trolling, just curious.


I would've thought that some people didn't get above .600 OPS for their total OPS in AAA until a third go-round (which will be Iglesias in 2013), but the only one I could find was Mike Gallego.
   25. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: October 01, 2012 at 06:19 PM (#4250343)
I would've thought that some people didn't get above .600 OPS for their total OPS in AAA until a third go-round (which will be Iglesias in 2013), but the only one I could find was Mike Gallego.


The mighty Alvaro Espinosa didn't break 600 until his third AAA year. He also broke it in year 4, but slipped down to 567 in AAA year 5. Not a good player, but he did get 2600 MLB PAs.

   26. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: October 01, 2012 at 08:13 PM (#4250454)
He had more home runs in 2011 than in his entire prior professional career combined, including minors, 2005-2010. I think anyone expecting more 30/30 years from him is going to be frequently disappointed.
   27. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 01, 2012 at 08:58 PM (#4250488)
I assumed comment #26 was about Jose Iglesias, and was stunned.

Upon further inspection Jose Iglesias did have more home runs in 2011 than in his entire prior professional career, having hit 1 that year.
   28. villageidiom Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:02 PM (#4250490)
Iglesias looked amazing in the few games I watched in Baltimore. Is there any chance he'll be able to put up an OPS in the .650-.700 range?
He has an outside shot, if and only if OPS is used as a counting stat.
   29. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:55 PM (#4250548)
Rey ordonez had a .554 ops in aaa, career .600 ops in the bigs.
   30. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: October 02, 2012 at 09:08 AM (#4250767)
Igelsias has a long track record of being unable to hit. He's never going to be an acceptable offensive performer at the big league level and it's my hope the Sox understand that sooner rather than later.
   31. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: October 02, 2012 at 09:46 AM (#4250826)
OPS+ of 107, meaning that his OPS (adjusted for parks) is 7 percent better than the league average.

Grrr ... no.


No? I thought that was exactly what it indicated?
   32. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: October 02, 2012 at 09:52 AM (#4250833)
Is there any chance he'll be able to put up an OPS in the .650-.700 range?


Sure, assuming they stick him at AA next year.
   33. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: October 02, 2012 at 09:54 AM (#4250836)
I thought only foreigners could be enigmatic.


That's his Navajo side coming through.

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