Jacoby Ellsbury 2011 projection:
Last season was a lost one for emerging speedster Jacoby Ellsbury. After fracturing four ribs early in April, Ellsbury would spend most of the season rehabbing while attempting and failing to come back to the lineup a few times.
Ellsbury is still rehabbing, but reports claim that he should be ready to play in spring training. Of course, I think we’d all like to see him running around the field with our own eyes before we make any final assumptions about his health.
This 2011 projection considers Ellsbury to be playing everyday from opening day on. However, it also considers him hitting in the ninth spot in the lineup, which is up for plenty of debate right now. However, even hitting ninth, Ellsbury becomes the “second leadoff hitter” and should still score plenty of runs.
In 2009, it looked as though Ellsbury was making big improvements at the plate, hitting .301 and showing an improvement in his walk rate, which was still a bit below what a team would want out of a true leadoff hitter. Given the lost season in 2010, I’ve held back projecting further progression in his walk rate, which is part of the reason you see an OBP projected just under .350. I’ve also projected his SLG to come in a bit under where it was in 2009 due to the unknowns about how healed his ribs truly are at this point. If there is any lingering soreness, his power output could be affected, though that isn’t exactly the most important part of his game anyway.
Even with the rib injuries last season, Ellsbury showed very little problems running. In only 18 games he stole seven bases — five on which came in August –, having been caught stealing only once. That pace would have put him to almost 60 steals in a full season. Being an extreme ground ball hitter, Ellsbury’s AVG relies heavily on his speed. Since I don’t think his speed will be affected even if he has some lingering soreness, I have him projected to do just fine in the AVG department.
There is a good chance that Ellsbury outperforms these projections, but I wanted to be a bit cautious due to the lost season and the somewhat unknown status of his rehab. If he comes into spring training 100 percent healthy and doesn’t come across any setbacks while playing baseball on a daily basis, he could very well pick up where he left off in 2009, if not improve even further.