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.