2018 Pinstripe Preview: Jacoby Ellsbury
For seven long years Jacoby Ellsbury was a thorn in the side of the Yankees. He made outstanding catches, turned doubles into triples and on one occasion even waltzed down the third base line and stole home off Andy Pettitte. What made it worse is the uniform he was wearing said Red Sox across the chest. He was not well liked in the Bronx or by the millions of Yankee fans around the globe.
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Then in early December of 2013 the tables flipped, Ellsbury had agreed to join the Yankees signing a seven-year deal that would pay $153 million. The idea was simple, take Ellsbury away from Boston and have him be the teams leadoff man for the next seven seasons. In his introductory press conference then Yankee manager Joe Girardi said of Ellsbury “ Jacoby you are no longer a thorn in my side, you are a flower in our clubhouse.” However, things have not been as many had hoped, and it is possible Ellsbury might be disliked more by Yankee fans now than he ever was in his tenure with the Red Sox. With Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge firmly entrenched in the outfield positions it seems the Yankees are going to be paying their fourth outfielder over $20 million for this coming 2018 season.
Ellsbury started off the 2017 campaign as he always had in New York, being the teams opening day center fielder. One of the biggest knocks on Jacoby isn’t his abilities rather the amount of time he spends off the field due to injuries. In 2017 Ellsbury would manage to play in only 112 games, that marks twice out of his four years in pinstripes he hasn’t played over 115 games. From a fans perspective that’s unacceptable for a man who makes as much as the Madras, Oregon native does. His lackluster games played total was partially due to injury as well as the emergence of Aaron Hicks who although suffering injuries of his own played at a very high level while on the field. Ellsbury would finish 2017 by hitting .264 with only seven “Seeeee Yaaas” by Michael Kay and a anemic 39 runs batted in. Again these are not the kind of numbers fans and management hoped to see when Ellsbury signed five years ago. His biggest weapon has always been his elite speed and while his stolen base numbers have dropped from his Boston years he is still very effective on the base paths. He swiped 22 bags in 2017 while only being caught 3 times. The most telling stat of all is in the Yankees 7 game ALCS showdown with the Astros Jacoby Ellsbury’s main use was as a pinch runner, Hicks started all 7 games in center leaving Ellsbury to the bench. Credit him where its due he never spoke up and has always been a team first guy.
Many seem to think that is a foregone conclusion that Hicks will be the starter in center with Judge and Gardner to his sides leaving room for Ellsbury on the bench with maybe one or two starts a week. A far cry from the $153 million dollar man they signed in the 2013 offseason. Ellsbury showed up to Yankees camp in mid-February and stated that he would go out and do everything he can to win that starting job. Now he’s off to a 1-7 start so far, this spring, but the talent and skill are still there. For Ellsbury it’s all about staying healthy. Aaron Hicks is an incredible athlete, but last season was a break out for him, obviously, the hope is that he continues the strong play and forces new skipper Aaron Boone to pencil him into the lineup every day. I’m not sold on Hicks and truthfully I’m not sure anyone should be until he proves he can continue a sustained level a success at the big league level. When healthy Ellsbury is still a very good ballplayer with above average speed and the ability to put the ball in play. I think this could be his best season in New York yet, he has a lineup of powerful stars around him all he has to do is get on base and let this modern day murderers row drive him in. Unless Hicks has 1956 Mickey Mantle like spring training I’d have Ellsbury out there in center opening day North of the Border. My prediction for Ellsbury in 2018 is .288 with 15 homeruns and 73 RBI’s.
Article By: Fave RuggieroFollow @BronxBomberBall