January 4, 2013
The Keeper Reaper
Outfielders for 1/4/13
Ellsbury followed up his monstrous 2011 season with a shoulder-subluxed and ineffective 2012 that burned those expecting a repeat. All told, he played 74 games, batted .271, hit four homers, and stole 14 bags. Now that the price has come way down, a healthy Ellsbury is an intriguing asset for 2013.
On the basepaths, Ellsbury was still effective, succeeding in 82 percent of his stolen base attempts and pacing 30 swipes per 150 games. Given John Farrell’s penchant for running, Ellsbury should approach a steal total of about 40-to-50 in 2013—common for him in his productive seasons.
After not breaking into double-digits for home runs in his two previous full seasons, Ellsbury notoriously exploded for 32 homers in 2011. Nobody expects him to approach that total again—although truthfully, nobody really knows what to expect from him power-wise. In 2011 he was able to turn on inside pitches, but in 2012 he was most successful on the outer third of the plate. With good health, I’d expect Ellsbury to partially regain that pull-power stroke, leading to 15-20 homers.
Given his low strikeout rate and ability to post high BABIPs, Ellsbury should have no issue posting a batting average in the .290-to-.300 range, and batting at the top of the Red Sox lineup should allow him to approach the century mark in runs. While this projection may seem optimistic, it is admittedly dependent on Ellsbury staying healthy, something he hasn’t been able to do two of the last three seasons. Those injuries were, however, clearly due to the moving bodies of Adrian Beltre and Reid Brignac in 2010 and 2012 respectively. As long as Ellsbury is able to keep to himself, I’d bet long here and not be afraid to keep a player of his immense talent.