We’re completely aware that most people think this is a ridiculous ranking for a player who’s been as brittle as dried lettuce (have you ever seen dried lettuce?) but it was just two years ago that Jacoby Ellsbury put together a 30/30 season en route to a second-overall ranking.
The talent is there, and so is the motivation. This year is Ellsbury’s big contract year. Amazingly, he’ll be 30 years old this offseason, meaning this is his best chance at making his millions. A great season could mean a five-year, $100MM contract. Another disappointing or injury-riddled season could mean a one-year pillow contract similar to what Adrian Beltre signed with Boston before breaking out or a good-not-great deal like the four-year, $48MM contract that Michael Bourn just signed.
The Red Sox have completely retooled their medical staff, and reports out of spring training say that there’s a new air of optimism surrounding the team. There’s no doubt Ellsbury is a risk this season, but there’s also no denying his potential.
At a Glance
- Strengths: R, SB, net SB, BA, OBP
- Neutral: HR, RBI, SLG, OPS
- Weaknesses: health
- Best-case scenario: Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
- Likely scenario: Desmond Jennings (TB) maybe…not really anyone
- Worst-case scenario: Michael Bourn (CLE) or injured
Jacoby Ellsbury 2013 Fantasy Projection
Much of what we project from Ellsbury is the result of educated guesswork. Prior to his 32-homer breakout, we’d heard about the potential home run power in his bat if he could just learn to turn on inside fastballs. Well, he learned to do that, but is he seriously that good?
No, I don’t think so. I do believe he has 15-20-homer power (we project 17), but that certainly wasn’t on display last season as he hit just four homers in 74 games.
Batting leadoff should preclude another 100-RBI season, but given Ellsbury’s speed and annually great line drive rates it should give him a great chance at 90-100 runs. Thirty-plus steals are almost a certainty given health, and he’s a career .297 hitter.
The point here is that Ellsbury’s value comes down completely to health and homers. I’m taking a shot in the dark here and projecting we see him perform admirably in both (149 games and 17 homers), and our formulas tell us that makes him the 13th-best player this season.
Of course, because of injury concerns I wouldn’t take him in the early second round, but I would start thinking about it in the third round.