Monday, April 27, 2009

An Open Apology to Jacoby Ellsbury (sort of)

Alright, I know that I've been pretty hard on Ellsbury in this space, but I fell like my reasoning was legitimate.  After that amazing 2007 callup and Postseason performance, Ellsbury turned in 2008 statistics that were decidedly mediocre.  I understand that the sample size from 2007 was very small, and it was inevitable that his numbers would fall off a bit.  Fair enough, but what got to me was all of the talk this Spring Training that AL pitchers had adjusted to him last year, and now he was making adjustments of his own.

Wait. What?  These discussions drove me crazy.  It seemed like Ellsbury (and Dave Magadan, the Sox hitting coach) had either A) only just realized that pitchers were exposing the giant hole in his swing on the inside of the plate, or B) had realized it last year, but... what?  Were waiting to fix it until now?  Were thinking that pitchers would say "Aw, shucks, we gave the rookie a hard time, let's tone it down."?  Whichever it was it annoyed the hell out of me, because I could have told Ellsbury last May that pitchers were attacking him on the inside half of the plate and he'd better adjust.

However, I have never disparaged Jacoby's defense.  There should be at least one Gold Glove in his future, but I won't guarantee one, because we all know how ridiculously fickle the voters for those awards can be: oftentimes, the best defender doesn't win (see Crisp, Coco, circa 2007).  I understand that Ellsbury is a valuable piece of the outfield: a young (cheap) player who can move around to all three spots and think nothing of it: the man has a 1.000 fielding percentage in every spot out there.  Yes, that's correct, Ellsbury has never made an error at the big league level, and, due to his speed, his range is above-average.

But my major gripe with him has always been the easy fan adoration he receives, especially from the female population (this phenomenon of adoring a below-average yet attractive player irks me to no end; it's part of the reason the rest of us female fans have to rattle off Manny Delcarmen's ERA and WHIP to be taken seriously).  I'll admit that if I'd been allowed to skip a week of high school in 2007 and attend the Postseason games or the victory parade, I might have been one of those girls with a sign proposing marriage to Jacoby Ellsbury.  (My first choice would've been Dustin Pedroia, but he's married.  I'm no home-wrecker.)  He seemed like everything Red Sox Nation hoped for: young, fast, hitting for average and power, and with a great glove to boot.  He looked like the real deal, and maybe he still can be, but after a disappointing 2008, I vowed to stay off the Ellsbury bandwagon until he proved worthy.

Well, yesterday (and really, over the entire homestand), Ellsbury reminded us all why we're lucky to have him patrolling center field at Fenway (and it's not because he's like, so dreamy).  Ellsbury has game changing speed, and he's finally getting on base enough to use it (in 40 ABs this homestand, he reached 21 times).  And by now everyone has seen the gutsy/amazing/ridiculous steal of home in last night's game, so I won't recap here, but you get the gist.  Now, Ellsbury is still young, so I'm going to reserve judgement for a little longer so I can gauge consistency.  I'll let you know when I'm a card carrying member of the Jacoby bandwagon though... and if he keeps up his current level of production it might be soon.

I will never be this girl.  However, I'm considering the purchase of an Ellsbury shirt.  A real one, NOT a pink one.

1 comment:

  1. noooo....dont jump on that bandwagon just yet