Red Sox: Catching up with old friends – Jacoby Ellsbury

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 23: Jacoby Ellsbury
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 23: Jacoby Ellsbury /

Catching up with old friends takes a look at past Boston Red Sox players, and where they are now. This week we have former centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

It is hard to believe that it has only been four years since Jacoby Ellsbury has been the centerfielder for the Boston Red Sox.

After Ellsbury made his departure from the Red Sox to the Yankees, many fans erased all the good memories that had been made of Ellsbury. Those memories were overshadowed by the fact that he signed with the one team that he couldn’t go to, and was now hated by the entire city of Boston with a flick of a switch.

For me, Ellsbury was my favorite player growing up, as I’m sure he was the favorite of many. His electric speed and quickness that he was able to showcase in all areas of his game made him such an explosive player. I’ve always had a thing for players with unbelievable speed. It’s always appealed to me, as I believe speed is one of the most overlooked tools in baseball, and could be the deciding difference maker in the final innings.

After stealing 50 bases in his rookie campaign in 2008, it was clear that he was going to change the way we view baserunners.

Ellsbury then followed up his 50 stolen base year with a 70 stolen base year. 70. Stolen. Bases. To put that in comparison to some of the fastest players today, Billy Hamilton stole a career-high 59 while Dee Gordon stole a league-leading 60. No one has stolen as many bases as Ellsbury since he hit the historic mark in 2009, with only Jose Reyes stealing more bases in the last decade (78 in 2007).

Ellsbury was an elite speed talent when healthy at the beginning of his career, but no could have possibly seen what Ellsbury could be capable of.

In 2011, Ellsbury put up one of the most impressive seasons that I have seen to date. Having played 158 out of 162 possible games. It was a pure combination of four tools in one season (his arm wasn’t as bad back then). But still, Ellsbury was robbed of the MVP award, losing out to Justin Verlander who was also the winner of the Cy Young award. Ellsbury came second in the MVP voting that year, to go along with a silver slugger and a gold glove award in centerfield.

Let’s compare two players. Let’s call them player X and player Y:

Player X: .321 BA, 32 HR’s, 105 RBI’s, 39 SB’s, and a .928 OPS.

Player Y: .287 BA, 36 HR’s, 111 RBI’s, 16 SB’s, and a .939 OPS

Regardless of which player you would choose, those numbers are fairly close to each other. Player X is Ellsbury’s 2011 MVP-like season, compared to Mike Trout‘s 2014 MVP season. That is how good of a season that Ellsbury had for Boston in 2011, and sometimes it is easy to forget since he did not actually win the MVP award. Many people don’t remember the runner-up.

More from Red Sox History

Ellsbury was loved in Boston during his tenure and would have always been loved had he not chosen his fate during free agency after the 2013 World Series champion season, going to the Yankees to become the third highest paid outfielder at the time.

Ellsbury’s tenure with the Red Sox was great from both ends. We loved him and he loved us. A two-time World Series champion in Boston, he will forever hold a place in our hearts, but of course, it is hard to forgive someone who wears the pinstripes and chooses your rivals over you. I don’t blame Ellsbury though, and it ended up being beneficial that the Red Sox did not re-sign him.

Since leaving the Red Sox, the centerfielder has only hit above 10 home runs one time, hitting 16 with the Yankee’s his first year with the team. Ellsbury has been able to stay above 20 stolen bases each year with the Yankees, but his totals have been going down every year since his first year in New York when he stole 39. As he gets older, his speed will continue to decrease and injuries will continue to pile up more tthanthey already have, as he is already 34.

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We loved our time with Ellsbury, but ultimately allegiance is everything when being on the Red Sox. And once you are a member of the Red Sox and Red Sox Nation takes you in as a member of our community, we take that very seriously. So when one of our own goes to the enemy, we do not take it kindly. We didn’t like it when Johnny Damon did it, when Roger Clemens did it it hurt too. Ellsbury could have been enshrined in Red Sox history and loved if he had gone to any of the other 29 teams. But he chose to go to the Yankees, and therefore, will always be showered at Fenway Park with Boo’s and “you suck’s”, and that’s exactly how we like it.