Monday, October 3, 2011

Speed, Power, MVP?

It was an odd year for Major League Baseball. Teams expected to win, didn't. Teams that expected to be a lower rank, proved everyone wrong. The same goes for players throughout the league. Carl Crawford is one of those examples. He had the tools that most teams wanted. Well, the Red Sox beat out the New York Yankees in acquiring the speedy outfielder in the offseason, however, they're probably glad that they didn't get him because of the numbers (or should I say lack of) that he put up for the Red Sox this season. There is one player though, that put up numbers no one ever saw coming.

Jacoby Ellsbury was an injury prone outfielder that seemed to get a lot of hype on how good he was when he made his major league debut. He was pretty good during his rookie season, but didn't seem to escalate from there as a whole. This year he pretty much made up for all that lost time. I mean come on, the kid is an MVP candidate for the league. Not to mention he's in the running against Yankees' outifielder Curtis Granderson, who by comparison, is practically the same size and has the same tools as Ellsbury.

Ellsbury made his debut with the Red Sox during the 2007 season, a season as every fan remembers as the year the Yankees got knocked out in the first round and the Sox didn't even have to bother with them in the ALCS. Anyhow, Ellsbury played 33 games batting .353 with 3 home runs. Certainly numbers that every team wishes they could get out of a rookie. It was definitely a treat for the kid since he was part of a World Series team his first year in the bigs.

However, the following year wasn't as impressive as his first. He batted only .280 with 9 home runs and 50 stolen bases out of 61 attempts (the only thing fantastic about that season). The center fielder is fast, we'll give him that. Don't get me wrong, his numbers weren't horrible at all, just in comparison to his first year with the Sox it was quite different (not to mention he played almost 3.5 times more games than he did his first season).

He got used to Major League Baseball the following year, playing 153 games, batted .301, and had an amazing 70 stolen bases while only getting caught 12 times. With that said, he only got caught stealing for every 5.8 stolen bases if you want to get precise. He only had 8 home runs, but it started to look that he was like every other speedy outfielder who was known more for their slap singles, infield hits, and extra base hits rather than their power.

2010 was the year in which most Red Sox fans got frustrated with him. He couldn't last more than a few games before getting injured or complaining of something still in pain. He played 18 games out of 162. Most fans thought that, if this was already happening to him at a young age, how long is he going to last? He batted a mere .192 in those 18 games, no home runs, but managed to steal 7 out of 8 bases. However, what fans didn't see coming, was Ellsbury's 2011 season, and to think about it, he probably didn't either.

Instead of going in depth and explaining what his season was like, I'll just lay out the numbers and you can figure out just how good he was.

Games: 153
Batting average: .321
RBIs: 105 (His 2008-2009 season combined was 107 in almost double the amount of games)
Doubles: 46
Triples: 5
Home Runs: 32 <--(no that's not a typo)
Stolen Bases/Attempts: 39/54

If those numbers don't mean anything to you in comparison to what he's done before, than I'm going to bluntly state that the game of baseball probably doesn't mean anything to you. Coming off a season in which he was injured practically the entire season and then enters one in which he's in the running to be MVP is almost unheard of. With those numbers brings me to the point of my title. You have an outfielder that can track down a fly ball faster than the average fielder, steal bases better than the average player, and for someone his size, hit more home runs than you'd expect.

What will be interesting is to see what Ellsbury looks like next year. Will he put the same type of numbers up? We'll have to wait and see. For now though, I'm going to choose the route of focusing on what an impressive season this guy had and how he recovered from the previous year, instead of what happened to the entire team at the end. In an article on Kevin Youkilis, first and third baseman for the Red Sox, told Ellsbury that, "That was one of the most impressive seasons I've ever seen."

I know Curtis Granderson has had a remarkable season as well, and what I'm about to say doesn't have to do with my dislike for the Yankees, but it's not every day that you see a player come off a season of injury and only playing 18 games, and then be put on the ballot for MVP. Major League Baseball should put serious consideration into this award before going ahead and choosing the "likely" choice.

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