Friday, July 11, 2008

Jacoby Rules

yahoo photos: Jacoby Ellsbury (L) of Boston Red Sox slides safely into home plate for a run ahead of the throw to Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer in the first inning of their MLB baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts July 8, 2008.

That's what I named my fantasy baseball team after Jacoby Ellsbury hit .400 in the World Series last year, after starting the 2007 season in Double A. While he may not win the AL Rookie of the Year award (Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Secular Rays is also having a fantastic season, and has posted some pretty impressive numbers) Ellsbury has been pivotal to the Red Sox this season. Check out Art Martone's take at ProjoSoxBlog; he calls Jacoby "The Catalyst" (go to his original post for links to sources):

THE CATALYST: When he hits .339 -- with a .411 on-base percentage and a .489 slugging percentage -- they win. When he hits .194 -- with corresponding numbers of .257 and .248 -- they lose. And when he doesn't play, their winning percentage is .333.

While it's a truism that virtually all players hit better in wins than in losses -- that's one of the reasons teams lose individual games, because the players don't hit in them -- the numbers for Jacoby Ellsbury are particularly striking. ( (Compare them, for instance, to Dustin Pedroia's, or Manny Ramirez' or J.D. Drew's.) Steven Krasner takes a closer look at Ellsbury's importance to the Sox' offense and talks to various people about how he jump-starts the attack. And there's plenty of evidence that his down periods coincide with the team's . . . such as the recently concluded 3-7 road trip, when he hit just .225 with a .279 on-base percentage. (Baseball Musings' Day By Day Database)

All of it indicates just how important Ellsbury has become to the Sox in the short time he's been with them. And it's one of the reasons why the controversy we all anticipated if Coco Crisp wasn't traded hasn't developed. While it's true that various injuries have given the two of them adequate playing time, more than could have been anticipated had everyone stayed healthy, no one can reasonable argue that Crisp, he of the .259/.309/.410, OPS-plus 87 line, deserves to be in lineup over Ellsbury.

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