Entering last night’s game against the Indians, Jacoby is hitting .291/.323/.350 on the season. Now, the season is early but his numbers are eerily similar to last year’s, when he hit .280/.323/.350.
He’s been torrid on the basepaths and has 15 swiped bags on the season, but the .323 OBP is not worthy of occupying the leadoff spot.
Should he be moved out?
Jacoby hasn’t shown an ability to hit the high, inside fastball that pitchers have been busting him with all this year and most of last year. Pitchers took note of his struggles with that pitch and are throwing him fastballs with increased regularity. He’s seeing fastballs 72.3 percent of the time on the year as opposed to 65.3 percent last year.
Quite simply, the pitchers are daring Ellsbury to beat him, and Ellsbury is being forced to adapt.
His .280 batting average last year and .291 so far this year are more than fine for a leadoff man — or for any position in the batting order for that matter. In that sense, yes, he has adapted.
What’s not fine is Jacoby’s lack of patience. He’s going up there looking to swing, not work pitches and alter his approach to get on base more. He’s still swinging at balls outside the strike zone at the same clip he’s done his entire career. He hasn’t adjusted his discipline in any way.
Jacoby has decent pop as evidenced by his nine home runs last year. For someone his speed, you would naturally expect his seven triples but more concerning to me was his 22 doubles.
He’s lost power so far this year with a .350 SLG (last year’s was .394) but that doesn’t concern me: as the weather heats up, he’ll start knocking more balls out of the park. It won’t be a significant change, however, to dramatically alter his game.
Unless he suddenly changes his game — with all evidence pointing to him not doing so — he’s a liability at the top of the order. Now, batting eighth or ninth? He’s a great value. A great defender who can hit for a reasonably high batting average and swipe bases makes for a fantastic value at the bottom of the order.
At the top? He has yet to show the plate discipline over his entire career to justify leading off. It makes me wonder why the Red Sox are sticking him up there.
Is it because there’s a lack of potential replacements?
I say no. You could just as easily slide Dustin Pedroia up to the leadoff spot then either put J.D. Drew second and drop David Ortiz to fourth or put Jason Bay in the two spot.
Even though Drew doesn’t care for hitting leadoff (both statistically and anecdotally) he could take over that mantle as well.
It makes you wonder if the Red Sox value OBP a little less than they generally do when you mix speed into the equation, as Jacoby has.
I don’t have any answers, but logic dictates that the numbers Jacoby has been putting up isn’t worthy of the leadoff spot.
Is his speed that valuable at the top of the order that the Sox are willing to deal with the loss of OBP? Is it a matter of Jacoby simply fitting best at the top with the other batters where they are?
What do you think?
Categories: Jacoby Ellsbury