Ellsbury’s Early-Season Power

By Editorial Staff

April wasn’t much to speak of for many of the Red Sox players but for Jacoby Ellsbury it marked the start of something special. Ellsbury started a 19 game hitting streak dating back to April 21st (recently ended last night against the Blue Jays). The hitting streak is impressive in its own right, especially considering Jacoby had a batting average of .182 prior to the streak. Equally as impressive is the new found power in Ellsbury’s swing.

Ellsbury started the streak with a respectable .418 slugging percentage. This percentage increased to .464 (+46) before the streak ended on May 11th.  On May 10th, among Red Sox hitters, Ellsbury’s slugging percentage was topped only by David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, and Jed Lowrie.  In the 19 game streak, Ellsbury hit for extra bases 10 times (all doubles). In contrast, during Jacoby’s 22 game hitting streak in 2009, Ellsbury only hit for extra bases seven times (six doubles and one triple).  However, preceding the current streak, Ellsbury was already displaying power he had not shown in previous seasons.

In the first 15 games of this season, Ellsbury hit four home runs.  In his previous four seasons, Ellsbury’s season high was nine. Since his call up to the majors in 2007, Ellsbury has only hit 20 home runs total before the start of the 2011 season. This of course is expected as Jacoby usually sits atop the Sox lineup as the leadoff man. Ellsbury is typically known for his speed in the field and on the base path but the power at the plate is new.

Another ongoing trend in the early season is the amount of strikeouts (30) Ellsbury has through 37 games. Obviously this trend is not desirable but it may be indicative of Ellsbury’s conscience effort to put some more power in his swing. Despite the negative side effect of a high strikeout number, Ellsbury’s batting average currently sits at .292.

Plagued with injury last season, Ellsbury was nonexistent. Rib injuries kept Jacoby out of the lineup in all but 18 games. Jacoby is locked in and is now on pace to shatter previous season highs in home runs and RBIs. It’s still early and Jacoby will likely revert back to his usual role as a pure leadoff guy but the power displayed so far has been a welcome surprise to Sox fans.

Side Notes on Ellsbury’s Hot Start

– Currently has 17 RBIs through 37 games. His previous season high in RBIs is 60.

– One of two American League players with a slugging percentage over .400 (.451) and double digit steals (11). Erick Aybar is the other.

Other Notes

– I apologize to Jacoby in advance for jinxing his hitting streak and his new found power. (I finished this article last night when Jacoby’s streak ended. Sorry again Jacoby)

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