Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

It’s quite possible that Jacoby Ellsbury can provide more first round value than most any other player selected, especially if he goes late in the first.

I have been a huge Ellsbury supporter for some time, ranking him seventh before his disastrous 2010 campaign. I truly believed Ellsbury had elite talent and could improve upon his power. Of course, 2010 was a complete waste.

Then in 2011, no matter what format you played in, Ellsbury was a top performer (#2 on ESPN’s player rater, for what it’s worth). Depending on Ryan Braun’s suspension, I have Ellsbury 6th or 7th.  Fleaflicker has him 7th overall.

Grey has him at 12 in his top 20 for 2012 fantasy baseball, which is a travesty. Outside of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Troy Tulowitzki, Ellsbury is the only surefire five category contributor. The only thing players like Fielder, Votto and Adrian Gonzalez have over Ellsbury is they will hit 10-15 more HRs and knock in 30 more runs. Ellsbury will pace them by a bunch of runs, out-steal them likes he’s the Hamburglar and they’re Grimace and bat for a better average. By my count, he wins 3 categories, while the slow lumbering 1Bs win two. Thanks to Sesame Street and the Count, I know 3 is greater than 2.

Let’s address the  hesitancy surrounding Ellsbury, i.e., his power. His .230 ISO last year was leaps and bounds better than anything he ever did at any level (presumably since little league).

Will he hit 30+ HRs again in 2012?

No, I don’t think so (obviously it’s possible, but not overly plausible). Still, scouts have believed Ellsbury could settle into the high teens/low 20s in terms of HR output and that seems logical. I’ll pencil him in for 20 HRs.

So he needs to make up the value for a loss of 12 HRs. He’ll do so by getting on base consistently, to the tune of a .320 average and .370 OBP. With that, he’s a lock to score 100+ runs. Furthermore, in a potent Red Sox line-up, 75 RBIs seem to be a given, with significant upside there as well.

And with all that getting on base comes steals. In his last three full seasons, he has stolen 50, 70 and 39 bases. I think 40 is by far the low watermark, with 45-50 being a reasonable expectation. Again, he has upside.

There are very few first round picks with upside. Ellsbury has that. If I’m picking in drafts, I want to be later in the first round to secure Ellsbury and grab a slugger when it comes back to me. That’s a winning formula.

In short:

You want Ellsbury on your team, you need Ellsbury on your team. We use words like BABIP, FIP, RBI. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent on fantasy baseball…

Ellsbury is a few good men, um, man– Well, you get the idea.

  1. The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:
    (link)

    nice post brotha, but I’m scared of Ellsbury (and Kemp for that matter). To me the first few rounds MUST be spent on guaranteed players. Taking a shot on a guy who hasn’t performed on that level for multiple levels is a HUGE risk, and could turn your team to the Titanic.

    Upside is for later rounds, just my opinion. I’m out on Ellsbury and Kemp this year.

    • The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:
      (link)

      @The Talented Mr. Dope Man, multiple years*… Sorry

      • Albert Lang

        Albert Lang says:
        (link)

        @The Talented Mr. Dope Man, I totally hear you, but Ellsbury performed at top 5 levels in 2009 and 2011. 2010 was a fluke injury, not bad performance. I think Kemp is a bit more of a wild card as he was healthy and put up a bad year. I’m buying Ellsbury until he has a bad year when he’s healthy.

  2. Albert Lang

    Albert Lang says:
    (link)

    Did you know that Ellsbury grew up in Madras, Oregon. He played ball against kids 2-4 years older when he was in little league and went on to set the Oregon state record for batting average in high school.

    He was one of just 6,000 poeple in his town, only 300 native americans.

    • Pucker says:
      (link)

      @Albert Lang, Ah, yes, the birthplace of River Phoenix. You’d be even more impressed with Jacoby if you knew what a crappy town Madras was/is.

  3. Big Magoo says:
    (link)

    Nice post, Albert. I’m usually risk-averse in the first few rounds (like The Talented Mr. Dope Man), but Ellsbury’s an elite all-around talent and I’m on board. I’m sure the info’s available somewhere (fangraphs maybe?), but having watched most of the Sox games last year, most of his hrs were not of the wall-scraping variety. I think he goes 25-40 and the counting stats will be there hitting in that lineup. He’s battling it out with Votto for the #6 spot on my board.

  4. Brian says:
    (link)

    I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to fantasy experts who rise and sleep under the performance Jacoby provided them last year, and then question the manner in which he provided it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on with your draft.

    • Albert Lang

      Albert Lang says:
      (link)

      @Brian, Thank you!

      • The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:
        (link)

        @Albert Lang, ha WTF… take your pills today Brian? haha jk

  5. chata says:
    (link)

    @ Albert :
    i’m on board with the love for Ellsbury , and have been from the start .
    and , not just because i’ve enjoyed your last couple of pod-casts .

    though my card collection precedes this by almost a decade (ok , maybe
    more than a decade) , my favorite card , clemente rookie not withstanding , might be from 1972 Topps .

    Card # 67 Strikeout Leaders
    features :
    N.L. leader Steve Carlton …. 310 K’s
    and ,
    A.L. leader Nolan Ryan …. 329 K’s

    on the back :
    nearest competitors are : Lolich (250) , Seaver (249) , Gaylord Perry (234)

    am guessing that we’ll never again see a tandem to rival Carlton/Ryan .

  6. CT Old School says:
    (link)

    I can get Fielder, Votto or Gonzalez in the first and grab Dee Gordon much later (SAGNOF). Or I can take Ellsbury and Hardy (who has a similar ADP as Gordon). The combined projections of Gonzalez & Gordon are pretty close to Ellsbury & Hardy, but the downside risk of the latter combo not reaching expectations is far greater. And pairing Votto or Fielder with Gordon comes out even better. Late first round, sure, I’ll take Ellsbury, but I’d rather grab HRs in bunches while I can.

    • Albert Lang

      Albert Lang says:
      (link)

      @CT Old School, relying on Dee Gordon is not a good idea, imo. Dude cant hit the ball out of the infield.

      I have Gordon with 0 HRs and 35 SBs, Voto with 32 HRs and 8 SBs.
      I’ll go conservative on Ellsbury, 18 HRs, 50 SBs, Hardy: 22 HRs, o SBs.

      So Gordon + Votto = 32 Hrs, 43 SBs; Ellsbury + Hard = 40 HRs and 50 SBs.

      I dont see any upside in Gordon’s numbers, whereas Ellsbury could hit 25 HRs…

      Why not take Ellsbury and Paul Konerko? There’s a decent amount of power later, there isnt a ton of reliable steals.

      • CT Old School says:
        (link)

        @Albert Lang, Not a ton of reliable steals?!! Blasphemy!!! We’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m with Grey: power early, speed late.

        • Albert Lang

          Albert Lang says:
          (link)

          @CT Old School, I’m fine disagreeing, just wondering where these reliable steals are coming from? Juan Pierre?

          • CT Old School says:
            (link)

            @Albert Lang, Mock Draft Central’s players around 250 are Lorenzo Cain, Rajai Davis, Bourgeous, Michael Brantley and Tabata. Power guys in the same range are Mayberry, Dunn and Duda.

            • Albert Lang

              Albert Lang says:
              (link)

              @CT Old School, Well Davis doesnt have a job. Cain is a nice sleeper, with 25 SB potential. Jason Bourgeois is a bit unproven, but the 31 steals last year were nice. Brantley hasnt put it together.

              I mean, all this says to me is that there are questions at the end of the draft. There do seem to be more speed guys at the end, but they are, by no means, something you can count on. Securing someone like Ellsbury who provides value in teh other 4 categories while being in the top 20 in SBs, saves you from trying to rely on Michael Brantley for your SB output.

              But, of your list, it’s not bad. But remember when Julio Borbon looked like a nice speed flier?

              • CT Old School says:
                (link)

                @Albert Lang, Borbon…touche.

                • Albert Lang

                  Albert Lang says:
                  (link)

                  @CT Old School, he’s my ace in the hole :-)!!!

                  • Old Rungo says:
                    (link)

                    @Albert Lang, I think Angel Pagan is a fairly reliable source of steals late on the board here (Grey’s 261) with the ability to potentially throw in a couple homers. Revere isn’t bad, Torres might have a turn around after last year.

                    • Albert Lang

                      Albert says:
                      (link)

                      @Old Rungo, Pagan….touche as he is one of my sleepers this year. I love Pagan this season and he is very cheap. I also think he can add a bit of pop and be an Ellsbury-lite.

                      I worry about Revere getting on base and think Torres is mostly done. But, very good points!

                    • Old Rungo says:
                      (link)

                      @Albert, So you noticed that with each name I threw out I grew a little less confident…. I’m in your boat though on Pagan- especially with OF being so thin this year.

                    • Albert Lang

                      Albert says:
                      (link)

                      @Old Rungo, Not just you – me as well. I think that while there are a lot of cheap speed options, the numbers of them that actually come through are small.

                      Pagan is different in my mind as he shouldnt be cheap (but that’s just splitting hairs). I’m a huge pagan supporter and will own him everywhere, I imagine!

  7. Albert Lang

    Albert Lang says:
    (link)

    Also, I do put my money where my mouth is. Took Ellsbury at 1.10 in a fantasy baseball writers/fanboys dynasty league. I was happy to get him.

  8. Oregon Nut Cups

    Oregon Nut Cups says:
    (link)

    He’s 28 years old and just had the best season of his career. I see how you can say he’s beating out the sluggers with higher overall production, but I’d argue that you can make up for those 45-50 projected steals alot easier than you can make up for getting a ‘take it to the bank’ 30HR bat in the early rounds. Compare your projected stats to Carl Crawford’s 2010. Granted he finished in the top 20, but he was not a first rounder from those stats and definitely not in the top 6 or 7. If you’re projecting a similar line to that, how can we be taking him in the top 12? BTW, just took a look at ESPN’s rankings in March of 2011…they had Crawford 4th :)

    Give me HRs early, give me steals late.

    • Albert Lang

      Albert Lang says:
      (link)

      @Oregon Nut Cups, I’m surprised how much ESPN is on Ellsbury, to be honest, I thought he’d be more in the teens for people.

      Where are you going to make up the 45-50 steals? Who exactly gives you that value? I prefer guys who contribute in multiple categories.

      And that’s not all, I mean Ellsbury’s runs will be higher and his average will be better. Ellsbury just hit 30 HRs himself, so it’s not like there is zero chance he does it again.

      • Oregon Nut Cups

        Oregon Nut Cups says:
        (link)

        @Albert Lang, the speed game has been increasing over the last couple of years. The big lug bat is becoming the rarity while speed has crept back into the game via alot more gams than was previously there. This is where my philosophy stems from. Steals are nice, but they are not required from your first round.

        Coco Crisp had 49 SB last year, he’s going in the 13th
        Brett Gardner had 49 while Maybin had 40 and they’re going in the 8th (not interested in any of these plays, BTW, just citing examples)

        I’m ok taking late round fliers on speed over all like a Ben Revere (19th).

        I’m not saying Ellsbury won’t hit 30 HRs, your projections are, hence my statement about Crawford and why we give that 45 to 50 steals too much merit, in my opinion :)

        • Albert Lang

          Albert Lang says:
          (link)

          @Oregon Nut Cups, Neither Gardner nor Maybin are cheap though. Crisp has averaged like 90 games the last four seasons. Further, if you add up all their HRs, they wouldnt come close to Ellsbury.

          Of the top SB guys last year only Crisp, Maybin, Bonifacio, and Revere were real bargains so you’d have to be one of the four people in your league to snag one — and they didnt provide much else.

          My projections dont have Ellsbury with 30 HRs, they have him with 20. If he finished as the second best player in fantasy last year to a 30-30 guy, how is a 100 run, 20 HR, 50 SB, 75 RBI, .300 hitter not near there again?

          • JoeC says:
            (link)

            @Albert Lang, My personal belief is that speed guys are more fragile than the big boppers. I have nothing but anecdotal evidence to back this up, so I don’t expect to convert anyone. But it makes sense from a body type perspective, as most basestealers are slighter guys.

            Also, basestealing itself is a rough job, with injuries liable to occur at so many points in the process: hammys and quads when launching, fingers and ankles when sliding, collisions with infielders trying to tag you. I would rather choose a guy in the first round who is going to do most of his running 90 feet at a time (or 360 feet, when he hits home runs).

            It’s just a personal philosophy and I don’t begrudge you your choice. But for me, like ONC, it’s power, power, power early.

            • Albert Lang

              Albert Lang says:
              (link)

              @JoeC, really dont know how to respond to this. Its fine if you want to believe something but unless you have facts, it’s nothing more than conjecture.

              What if a HR hitter swings much harder than a speed guy, couldnt he pull his oblique? Further, as speed guys are use to running the bases, shouldnt that mean big boppers will injure themselves more when they try to stretch a single into a double?

              We can create a lot of incorrect statements by believing in them…

              • JoeC says:
                (link)

                @Albert Lang, It’s all conjecture and I never said it was anything else. I have neither the means nor the time to study the history of basestealers vs. power hitters and the relative stability of their respective performances over time. My “sense”, and this is from watching baseball and playing fantasy baseball for years, is that guys who steal 30+ bases do so less consistently over time than guys who hit 30+ home runs.

                Stealing bases, in effect, is a young man’s game because it’s so hard on the body, much harder than hitting a home run (except for freaks of nature like Rickey Henderson).

                With Ellsbury’s improved power game, I think he’ll feel less compulsion to steal anywhere near 70 bases ever again. I would expect to see totals more in the low 30’s from now on (and that may be necessitated anyways by his lower steal percentage last season when he was caught 15 times vs. 39 successful attempts).

                He’s still a good player, no doubt about it. But I think he’ll be more of a 20HR/80RBI/100R/35SB guy from here on out, with at-bat totals that will be in the 500’s instead of 600’s. Absolutely nothing to sneeze at, but like I said before, I prefer the big lugs in the early rounds and look to get speed later like NutCups does.

                • Albert Lang

                  Albert Lang says:
                  (link)

                  @JoeC, Right, i know you qualified it – but why even say it if there isnt a way of proving or disproving it? I mean you typing it means I have to respond to it, right?

                  Ellsbury is only 28, so I’m not sure he’s ready to pack in the running, but I understand your point of view. We’ll see what his career arc looks like.

                  • JoeC says:
                    (link)

                    @Albert Lang, Whoa, whoa, whoa there, partner… that sounds very close to saying that we shouldn’t share our opinions on this site unless they’re backed up by a seal of certification from the Southern Flordia Institute of Fantasy Baseball Research.

                    It could also be interpreted as “don’t share your opinion unless you agree with me”. Not exactly the attitude that Razzball is known for.

                    We’re projecting the future performance of an athlete. If you have a foolproof way to do that, then you will make a lot of money. Until then, I think it’s more of an art than a science. We all do our best to see into the future, but we’re all half-blind and stumbling.

                    My main point about Ellsbury not stealing as much anymore had less to do with his age than the theory that he doesn’t HAVE to steal anymore because he’s providing value to the team in other ways (through his increased power). A guy like Michael Bourn, on the other hand, MUST steal because that’s about all he does for his team.

                    But yes, it’s just a theory and we shall see how it pans out going forward. But I think it’s a bit out of the spirit of Razzball to say “keep your theories to yourself”.

                    • Albert Lang

                      Albert Lang says:
                      (link)

                      @JoeC, Well, clearly I only prefer comments that commend me for bringing such well-written posts to the masses :-).

                      All I was saying is that you throw out a claim, it’s helpful to back it up a little otherwise it’s kind of meaningless, right? the majority of other comments here cite statistics and trends, etc. not just a sentiment.

                      I heartily welcome your most recent theory, but, really, how do you expect anyone to discuss something that starts “My personal belief is that speed guys are more fragile than the big boppers.”

                      What if my post was “My personal belief is that Jacoby Ellsbury will continue to increase his HR rate, but I have no evidence to support this.”

                      As for your recent comment, I dont think Ellsbury has to steal to provide value (as you note), he provides value by stealing successfully because his speed is an asset. As he hits more doubles/HRs his quantity of steals will likely go down, but that’s offset by the power (RBIs/HRs). Michael Bourn must steal because he doesnt hit anything but singles — there’s a big difference between the two.

                    • JoeC says:
                      (link)

                      @Albert Lang, That was precisely my point: Bourn has to steal because that’s all he does. If he didn’t steal bases, he wouldn’t have a job.

                      Ellsbury is no longer in that category (I would argue that he was before 2011) and now he can provide value through his power alone (with a couple dozen steals thrown in on the side, of course).

                      Main takeaway: I would never expect to see him steal 70 bases again and I think even 50 would be a stretch.

                      Why put out a theory that’s not supported by facts? Well geez, Albert, why talk about anything at all? Why speculate about alien life, for example, even if we have no examples of alien life?! Why did anybody think about sailing to the Indies to the West instead of just using the usual route around the horn of Africa?

                      C’mon, man… we’re all just trading theories here. Fact is, you have precious little “facts” to support your 2012 Ellsbury projection besides “he did it before”. That’s what almost of projections consist of “well, he did this in the past, therefore he’ll probably do that again”. Past is prologue.

                      Fact: Ellsbury never did anything like his 2011 season before in his career.

                      Fact: People will start to believe Ellsbury’s 2011 of talent if he repeats it in 2012.

                    • Albert Lang

                      Albert Lang says:
                      (link)

                      @JoeC, I see what you’re saying, the distinction i was drawing is: just because Ellsbury doesnt have to run to provide value doesnt mean he will stop running as his speed doesnt cease to be an asset.

                      The Sox and Ellsbury wont just stop running because he’s hitting enough doubles. If he’s on first, he’ll run at a reasonable rate because he can and is fast.

                      Again, not sure who expects him to steal 70 bases. I have him stealing 45-50 bases.

                      JoeC, Do you regularly get into conversations about whether alien life exists? I dont, nor do i understand how you would have those type of conversations.

                      Just because i have “precious little facts” doesnt mean I have no facts. Your sentiment that “speed guys are more fragile” simply has no facts behind it. I dont know how you can debate something that can be proved neither true or false. We can easily find out whether I am right about Ellsbury or not…

                    • JoeC says:
                      (link)

                      @Albert Lang, Yes, I regularly get into speculative conversations because they’re interesting and allow me to be exposed to new ideas and to achieve a new perspective on old ideas. I am sorry you don’t.

                      As for facts, what facts are you citing for your belief that Ellsbury will steal 45-50 bases in 2012? He only stole 39 last year, so an increase of 10 to 20 percent in perfomance is a fairly significant uptick. What iron-clad fact gives you such certainty?

                      Neither of us knows how many bases Ellsbury will steal this year. Myself, I’m going to put my faith in regression to the mean and assume that his OBP falls, his at-bats fall and he gets on base less, thus providing him with less steal opportunities. I also speculate that he won’t be compelled to steal as much as he has in the past due to his increased power, thus reducing his NEED to steal (in order to provide value to the team).

                      At least my theory is somewhat supported by facts as Ellsbury stole only 14 of his 39 bases in the last 3 months of the season of 2011. In those same 3 months, he hit 23 of his 32 homers.

                    • Albert Lang

                      Albert Lang says:
                      (link)

                      @JoeC, No, I do enter into debates with my friends and I really only have an issue with your first comment and here’s why. Which is a better way to enter into a discussion:

                      My personal belief is that there are aliens in the world. I have nothing but anecdotal evidence to back this up, so I don’t expect to convert anyone. OR
                      I think Aliens exist. When you look at how vast the universe is, and how much carbon there is out there and how many stars there are, etc. it really seems plausible.

                      The first instance doesn’t provide anything to debate, it’s a simple statement. If I disagree, all I say, well I don’t think so…and the discussion is done. What new ideas have we shared?

                      As for your points on Ellsbury, over the last four years he has averaged 42 steals a season, that includes the seven steals he had in 2010. So really 45-50 is not an uptick on his historical rates.

                      What regression to the mean are you suggesting? His OBP wasn’t much higher than in 2009 (and I might add that he stole 70 bases with that OBP), and he hit more line drives and less ground balls in 2011. He also increased his walk rate to numbers similar to what he did in the minors.

                      Lastly, I know you aren’t arguing that three months of the past season is enough of a sample. Even if you are, he hit 23 of his HRs in the second half. If that’s the true Ellsbury , then he is suddenly a 46 HR guy with 28 SBs, sounds like an even better player than I thought!

                    • JoeC says:
                      (link)

                      @Albert Lang, Except that’s not what I did. I didn’t ask an open-ended question and not attempt to answer it. I attempted to answer with a theory.

                      A theory is an assumption that does not rely on facts. Theories come before facts. One cannot prove every theory because A) not all theories are true and B) no one has that amount of time. Basically what you’re saying is that you’re uninterested in theories, you’re only interested in facts, even though the whole point of your article is your THEORY of how Ellsbury is going to perform in 2012.

                      My initial theory was that guys who steal regularly are of slighter build than guys who regularly hit home runs. I’m pretty sure this theory is true, but I do not have a FanGraphs chart that will prove this to you.

                      I further speculated that guys who steal for a living are more prone to injury because stealing a base is a more physically-trying act than hitting in general (and home runs in particular). I speculated that players who hit home runs were more likely to maintain their home runs totals over time as compared to basestealers their steals totals over time.

                      Since you wanted some facts to back up that theory (because in your world, theories are not enough), I looked at the 2010 and 2011 seasons and found these facts:

                      In 2010 there were 35 players who stole 20 bases or more.
                      In 2011 there were 50 players who stole 20 bases or more.

                      Of the 35 players who stole 20 bases or more in 2010, 19 of them also stole 20 or more bases in 2011 (54%).

                      In 2010 there were 77 players who hit 20 or more home runs.
                      In 2011 there were 68 players who hit 20 or more home runs.

                      Of the 68 players who hit 20 or more home runs in 2010, 40 of them also hit 20 or more home runs in 2011 (59%).

                      Well now. Isn’t that odd? The numbers correspond to my theory. Of course you will scream “small sample size”, so I will attempt to expand this study further out to see if the correlations found are steady over more seasons. Still, it’s interesting that the first set of data conforms with my theory (though of course it does not PROVE my theory… that would require a much more rigorous scientific study).

                    • Albert Lang

                      Albert Lang says:
                      (link)

                      @JoeC, I do think we’re talking past each other. I enjoy theories that are supported in some sort of fact, not just anecdotes, yes. I dont argue the existence of Jesus Christ for that reason.

                      I really don’t know how to debate a theory that has no supporting points besides belief.

                      A few questions for you: Why is stealing a base more physically trying than hitting in general? Sliding? Acceleration? How do you know base stealers aren’t conditioned to be better at that type of phsycial activity (because of practice) than sluggers? I believe that when sluggers have to slide or stretch a sigle into a double, their injury chances skyrocket.

                      Your original theory was about the fragility of SB guys, right? Injury isn’t the only reason someone might steal less bases one year after another. Further, I don’t see a ton of difference between 59% and 54%.

                      I thought your theory was “My personal belief is that speed guys are more fragile than the big boppers. I have nothing but anecdotal evidence to back this up, so I don’t expect to convert anyone.”

                      I hope we’re not arguing about whether power is more replicable from year to year.

                    • JoeC says:
                      (link)

                      @Albert Lang, So the argument we’re having here is whether or not Ellsbury is deserving of a first round pick. I don’t think he is, because his main value is through the stolen bases he provides and I don’t think basestealers are as likely to maintain their steal totals season-to-season as home run hitters are (for the myriad of reasons I’ve elaborated on in this discussion).

                      So you wanted some “facts”, so I did the hard work of pullin’ out the spreadsheet and giving you some facts that actually supported my theory. But now those facts aren’t good enough? A 5% difference is not that much of a difference? What exactly is the threshold that would impress you? A 50% difference?

                      If this 5% advantage for power hitters repeating their totals is found in other seasons, does my theory gain more strength or is it all meaningless because it goes against your side of the argument?

                      Stealing a base is a more physical act than hitting because there is a collision every time you steal a base, whether with the ground, the base or the defender (and often all three).

                      Do I also need a spreadsheet to prove that pitching is a more physical act than hitting? :D

                    • Albert Lang

                      Albert Lang says:
                      (link)

                      @JoeC, So, i totally messed up what we were arguing and that’s my bad – trying to keep up with all of these threads while doing other things (stupid job). For that I apologize.

                      I tend to agree that HR are slightly more reliable from year to year (just dont tell Adam Dunn’s fantasy owners :-). And that 59-54 number doesnt shock me at all.

                      However, I do think Ellsbury goes beyond being a mere base stealer. Given that he is capable of finishing in the top of almost every category he possesses something pure sluggers dont, i.e. the potential to be the best fantasy player.

                      That said, as you rightly point out, there is some uncertainty with Ellsbury. Will he maintain that elite speed as he hits for more power and ages? He wasnt as successful on the base paths last year, so it’s hard to say. I’m buying his track record over the last three full seasons and thinking 45 steals is entirely likely, especially as I think his power will diminish somewhat, resulting in more opportunities.

                      Is Prince Fielder a safer pick? Possibly, although he’s going to a difficult park/league. Adrian Gonzalez and Joey Votter are pretty steady as well.

                      I prefer Ellsbury because he gives me something they dont: speed and the chance at being the best player in fantasy. I dont think there’s much chance of those other guys finishing #1 overall and I look at Ellsbury’s underlying stats, scouting reports and career arc and see his 2011 as not altogether abnormal.

                      Again, apologies for screwing up this conversation, I was entirely talking past you and missing your general point.

                    • JoeC says:
                      (link)

                      @Albert Lang, no worries, man. It’s very difficult to argue with more than one person at a time. :)

                      I don’t mean to bash your analysis of Ellsbury in any way (although I will say his walk rate actually DECLINED last season!). We simply disagree about drafting strategy and that’s as common as sand grains on the beach.

                      Personally, I’ve always liked Ellsbury as well, but I like to think the world would be slightly less interesting without contrarians like myself. :D

                      Good luck and thanks for the article and the healthy debate.

                    • Albert Lang

                      Albert Lang says:
                      (link)

                      @JoeC, I love to argue to! bet you never woulda guessed that.

                      I looked at fangraphs too quickly when assessing his walk rate — it was actually right in line with his career (7.1% v 6.9%). Whoops.

                      If we didnt have contrarians like you, I wouldnt be able to get a good value on Ellsbury in this year’s draft! :-)

                    • WallyCleaver says:
                      (link)

                      @Albert Lang, Wow. Sounds like I want Ellsbury for his power and any SBs he gets is a bonus. A guy like him gets 30 Sbs without even trying. I wouldn’t take him until near the end of the first round though

          • Oregon Nut Cups

            Oregon Nut Cups says:
            (link)

            @Albert Lang, First off, what’s with all these thread jackers!!! :)) I keed.

            Secondly, I agree the guys I listed weren’t cheap but what I meant to point out was where they went the year before in drafts. Maybin and Coco were late round fliers. Gardner probably went earliest between those three and that’s only because of NYY recognition. Emilio Bonifacio got 40 SBs and played multiple thin positions and was not drafted for the most part. Its my opinion there will be just as many ‘surprise’ SB guys available late enough that I can’t justify taking a guy in the first round based on 50 SB potential. For example, Rajai Davis could very easily find himself plenty of PT this year with how questionable Toronto’s CF/LF situation is right now. If he hits and they don’t, he sticks and he’s off to the races. With that, I’ll simply pad out my stats with high end HR guys early and draft speed late.

            Of course, I’m splitting hairs as I do believe he’ll be valuable this year, just not 1st round valuable whether its the 6th or 7th pick or the 12th. In Grey’s rankings, I’d put him closer to Carlos Gonzalez/Andrew McCutchen.

            • Albert Lang

              Albert Lang says:
              (link)

              @Oregon Nut Cups, You should try and be me and think your responding to a Nut cup about aliens and realize you were intending to wake up! — :-)

              Ahh, yes, I get your point – sorry i missed it. My notion is that there are usually only a handful of elite speed that emerges, maybe 3-4 guys at most, which, in a 12-team league, doesnt leave a lot for you if you wait on Michael brantley (who looked good at the start of last season). So if you dont get one of those 4 that emerges, wouldn’t it be better to have Ellsbury who pitches in in every category and makes you formidable in SBs?

              I see where you are, I just think the power/speed combo is something unlike we’ve seen in this game outside of what Kemp did last year. It makes him a bit unique. Although I dont think he is that much better than McCutch/CarGo, but i tend to value across the board performance more.

              • WallyCleaver says:
                (link)

                @Albert Lang, A big difference between Ellsbury and The Pirate is lineup. Cargo is in a decent lineup but talk about a guy who can’t stay healthy…

                • Albert Lang

                  Albert Lang says:
                  (link)

                  @WallyCleaver, Agreed….McCutchen is hurt by his mates, and CarGo needs to figure out how to be productive allyear and on the road!

    • Wake Up says:
      (link)

      @Oregon Nut Cups, I 2nd. He was top 5 in 2009? Where do you have Bourne?

      • Albert Lang

        Albert Lang says:
        (link)

        @Wake Up, I have Bourn as a high value as well, in the top 20-30 hitters I believe. Consistent speed isnt there really, it’s just not.

        24 players hit 20+ HRs; 20 stoles 30+ bases. However of those 20 only 5 had 20+ HRs and only four batted above .300. If you can get speed without sacrificing other categories, it’s huge.

        • Albert Lang

          Albert Lang says:
          (link)

          @Albert Lang, that should be 24 players hit 30+ HRs.

          • Wake Up says:
            (link)

            @Albert Lang, So, you are drafting Bourn in the 3rd round? You are too focused on last year. How many of those top 24 HR hitters did you have to take early? How many of the top 20 SB guys did you have to take early?
            30 SB = 30 SB
            30 HR = 30 HR, 30 R, 30 RBI

            • Albert Lang

              Albert Lang says:
              (link)

              @Wake Up, Well, did you know Bourn has 175 SBs over the last three years? Crawford and Davis have the second most during that span with just 124.

              Top HR hitters you didnt have to take early: Granderson, Reynolds, Ellsbury, Konerko, Berkman, Morse, hardy, Napoli. heck Josh Willingham hit 29 HRs last year.

              I’m not arguing that a SB = a HR. Ellsbury is a unique 5-category contributor. He scored the 3rd most runs, 12th most HRs, 10th most RBIs, 9th most SBs, 8th best average. None of that should have surprised people based on his 2009.

              Ellsbury is not a one-dimensional player. Which line would you rather have:

              100 runs, 20 HRs, 80 RBIs, 40 SBs, .305
              90 runs, 32 HRs, 100 RBIs, 7 SBs, .310?

              I’ll take the first one

              • Wake Up says:
                (link)

                @Albert Lang, Did you know that Bourn hit .265 with 38 RBI in 2010?
                Once again you are focused on last season by saying he is a 5 cat. guy. He has hit double digit HRs once. He has hit more than 60 RBIs once. As JoeC said, he only had a net 24 SBs last year.
                It seems like you are trying to argue that SB are = to HR by comparing and contrasting the two, rarity wise.
                I’d love to see the team you draft, if you are planning on going
                Ellsbury
                player X
                Bourn

                • Albert Lang

                  Albert Lang says:
                  (link)

                  @Wake Up, Who are we talking about here? Bourn or Ellsbury?

                  Bourn hit .265 in 2010 with a low BABIP for him. He has batted .283 over the last three seasons.

                  As for Ellsbury, yes, last season was the first year he became a 5-category guy. You can support the HR growth by his quantity of doubles and lack of just enough HRs. You, accurately, point out that it’s more a leap of faith to buy Ellsbury’s power. However, a few scouts have no been surprised by this growth and he is hitting his power peak, so it’s not completely unparalleled, like Bautista’s power spike was.

                  The point of drafting Ellsbury early is that you dont need someone like Michael Bourn (a 3 category guy) later. Why would you draft Ellsbury then Bourn in the third? Once a draft starts, the relative values of players change for different teams.

                  Which of the below would you rather have:

                  100 runs, 20 HRs, 80 RBIs, 40 SBs, .305
                  90 runs, 32 HRs, 100 RBIs, 7 SBs, .310?

  9. Alcesto says:
    (link)

    Ellsbury? More like Smellsbury!

      • TheNewGuy says:
        (link)

        @Albert Lang, Snozzberry? Who’s ever heard of a snozzberry! :)

    • RandomItalicizedVoice says:
      (link)

      @Alcesto, fail.

      • The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:
        (link)

        @RandomItalicizedVoice, i 2nd the fail.

        • Alcesto says:
          (link)

          @The Talented Mr. Dope Man, Oh where would the poor Razzball commentors be without you two and your poignant observations and your rapier-like wit. Not to mention your obviously well-developed senses of humor.

          • The Talented Mr. Dope man says:
            (link)

            @Alcesto, Ha I was just kiddin bro! All in good fun

  10. chata says:
    (link)

    @ Albert :

    if they just let Ellsbury do his thing , and quit worrying about
    Carl Crawford and trying to justify THAT contract , i’d pencil him in
    for 61 SB’s .

    seems like a nice round number .

  11. Cheeeeeeze says:
    (link)

    Do you really beleive that ellsburry wins in average category against votto? If anything they’re the same… but i’d give votto the edge since he has a career average 10 points better then ellsburry. and fielder and a-gonz aren’t far off.. throw a little luck in there and they’ll have a better avg. season then ellsburry 4 out of 10 seasons. I don[‘t think that’s enough to pick a speed guy like ells over the homeruns and rbi’s that an elite 1B can bring in.

    • Albert Lang

      Albert Lang says:
      (link)

      @Cheeeeeeze, Well, i did sort of lump them all together. But, yes I do believe Ellsbury is a better average candidate than Votto. that said, you are right that they are so close in that regard that a few grounders could sway the category in another’s direction. So average is a push for the most part.

      That said, what makes Ellsbury just a speed guy? Juan Pierre when he could was just a speed guy. Ellsbury hit more HRs than Votto last year, right? Ellsbury hit 46 doubles (tied for third most). He isnt Ichiro, he hits the ball with authority. So he isnt just a speed guy. he’s actually a 5-category contributor, whereas Votto isnt — AGON and Fielder certainly arent either…

      • Cheeeeeeze says:
        (link)

        @Albert Lang, I’d disagree… yea Ells did have a great year last year. and if it was so cut and dry as to look at last years stats for predicting next years then fantasy wouldn’t be so fun… votto has hovered around 30 homers for the past 4 years and has 119 career homers. Ells has 1 season over 10 homers. his last two full season he hit 8 and 9 homers then busted out last year with 32… but has 52 career homers. Sure Jacoby had 46 doubles last year but his other 2 full seasons he only had about 25. Votto over the past 4 years has had around 40 doubles and 30 homeruns… its consistancy like that that makes him a 1st round power threat. The inconsistancy and the nature of only having one great season like this makes it very hard for me to put him as a top 10 going into next year. If you draft him at #7, you’ll be paying for the best year of his career.

        • Albert Lang

          Albert Lang says:
          (link)

          @Cheeeeeeze, Ellsbury’s 162-game average line is 17 Hrs, 56 SBs and a .301 batting average (which is top 10 value). I think you’re downplaying Ellsbury hitting his peak. His 2010 really makes this a tough argument to have, as Mike Cameron destroyed a stepping stone year.

          As i said, Ellsbury was a top 10 player for me going into 2010. I dont think many are surprised at what he did last season – nor am I predicting him to repeat it. I was simply using last year’s stats to illustrate that it isnt asinine to think Ellsbury has 80% of the power Votto does. If he has 80% of Votto’s power and steals 8 times as many bases, I’ll take that as being more valuable.

          I understand your need to have players show you they can repeat and it’s not a bad way to approach fantasy (usually its the way I approach it), I’m just making an exception for Ellsbury.

          • Cheeeeeeze says:
            (link)

            @Albert Lang, I’d take 80% of his power and 8times the steals as more valuable too… just can’t come to an agreement that that is what will happen. Maybe after another big power season i’ll be on board… until then I’ll take votto’s power and power upside combined with his 10-15 steals and consistency in the first round…

            • Albert Lang

              Albert Lang says:
              (link)

              @Cheeeeeeze, So we have to have a duel? Right? :-)!

              I will say if you think Votto is stealing double digits you might be dreaming! I love the debate. We’ll have to revisit this in the summer!

              • Cheeeeeeze says:
                (link)

                @Albert Lang, if only both our names were dalton we could be the duelin daltons…. I will point out that votta had 16 bags in 2010 and did get 17 and 24 sb’s in his last two years in the minors…

                • Albert Lang

                  Albert Lang says:
                  (link)

                  @Cheeeeeeze, true enough…and alliteration is always good. I’ll still take the under on Votto and 10 SBs

          • JoeC says:
            (link)

            @Albert Lang, I think everyone, except maybe you, was surprised that Ellsbury hit 32 home runs last year and drove in 105 Runs. Not tryin’ to bag on you here, but I think most people saw Ells as a speedster and did not have an inkling that Hank Aaron was hiding in that skinny body.

            • Albert Lang

              Albert Lang says:
              (link)

              @JoeC, I was surprised he out-HR Votto, but i thought 25 HRs was reasonable.

              I have written a lot buying into Ellsbury and the power 9as has AJ mass, i believe). Ellsbury is 6-1, 185 and plays in a bandbox, Aaron was 6’0 180….

  12. Giant JJ says:
    (link)

    Albert, where would you draft Ellsbury? I have the 5th pick. I was thinking about Tulo there but…

    • Albert Lang

      Albert Lang says:
      (link)

      @Giant JJ, Shoot, if Tulo’s there I’ll take him. he does everything Ellsbury does but as a SS.

      My top 10: Pujols-Kemp-Tulo-Miggy-Bautista-Ellsbury-Cano-Votto-AGON-Justin Upton

      • Swaggerjackers says:
        (link)

        @Albert Lang, Come on now Albert Lang, Tulo doesn’t steal nearly as many bases as Ells!

        • Albert Lang

          Albert says:
          (link)

          @Swaggerjackers, Ok- he does almost everything Ells does, but as a SS….:-)

  13. Anthony says:
    (link)

    Hey – Does anyone know when yahoo will be open ???

    • Albert Lang

      Albert Lang says:
      (link)

      @Anthony, Supposedly 6 pm ET today, i believe, but i also saw 4pm PT, so somewhere in there

  14. doghat says:
    (link)

    5×5 roto, 12 team, 1 C, 4 OF, I UI, 1 DH, 5SP, 3RP, 1P. Keep 15, roster 32

    My 15 are:
    C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    1B Joey Votto
    UI Paul Goldschmidt
    DH Prince Fielder
    2B Ian Kinsler
    SS Jhonny Peralta
    OF BJ Upton
    OF Mike Morse
    OF Bryce Harper
    SP Cliff Lee
    SP Yu Darvish
    SP Anibal Sanchez
    Plus one of these three groups

    A B C
    Cory Luebke Cory Luebke Joe Nathan
    Doug Fister JJ Putz JJ Putz
    Joe Nathan Danny Valencia Danny Valencia

    Which would you choose?

    • Albert Lang

      Albert Lang says:
      (link)

      @doghat, I’m not a Valencia fan, so Luebke-Fister-Nathan sounds good.

      Might sub Putz for Fister if that’s possible.

      I’d rank:
      Luebke
      Putz
      Nathan
      fister

      Valencia

  15. doghat says:
    (link)

    Sorry, this is easier to follow:
    A
    Cory Luebke
    Doug Fister
    Joe Nathan

    B
    Cory Luebke
    JJ Putz
    Danny Valencia

    C
    Joe Nathan
    JJ Putz
    Danny Valencia

    • Albert Lang

      Albert Lang says:
      (link)

      @doghat, I’ll take A, rank:
      Luebke
      Putz
      Nathan
      fister
      Valencia

  16. doghat says:
    (link)

    Thanks Albert, to do that I would have to give up Goldschmidt and still end up with Valencia. That seems worse to me.

    • Albert Lang

      Albert Lang says:
      (link)

      @doghat, yep that’s much worse! Group A it is!

  17. doghat says:
    (link)

    Could you rank these for this year, 5×5 roto:
    Trayvon Robinson
    Erik Bedard
    Jake Peavy
    Danny Valencia

    • Albert Lang

      Albert Lang says:
      (link)

      @doghat, Wow. I mean they all have such huge question marks.

      Peavy
      Valencia
      Bedard
      Robinson

      But honestly, they could fall in line in any other way.

      If we’re talking about fliers, I’d probably go Bedard, but i do see Peavy and Valencia getting more playing time than the others (just not sure if they’ll be good)

  18. Wake Up says:
    (link)

    How can you say that 24 players hit 30+ HRs, only 20 with 30+ SBs, and then say that you are not saying that HRs and SBs are equal? What is your point then, comparing the two?

    • Albert Lang

      Albert Lang says:
      (link)

      @Wake Up, From what I’ve read and heard in the comments, there is an assumption that steals are available in large quantities late in drafts.

      My goal was to point out that there werent many elite SB guys last year (i.e., just 20 with 30+) Would you think someone with 29 SBs pilfered a lot of bags? It was merely trying to demonstrate that while there appears to be a lot of cheap speed, that doesnt always translate to a lot of SBs at the end of the season.

      If you look at my top 10 (Pujols-Kemp-Tulo-Miggy-Bautista-Ellsbury-Cano-Votto-AGON-Justin Upton), I think power is well represented…

      • Wake Up says:
        (link)

        @Albert Lang, On Power, yes, but only if you take some. 18 HRs doesn’t seem too exciting, from Ellsbury. Also, 70 RBI isn’t much of a contribution. So, he seems like more of a 3 cat. guy that won’t hurt you in two. Not to mention, he wasn’t that good at stealing bases last year either. 24 NSB.
        I’m not saying that he’s crap. But, you’re going to have to take him in the first round, and I’d rather not go OF in the 1st and if I have to, it won’t be him.
        I’ve enjoyed this back and forth, best of luck to you this season.

        • Albert Lang

          Albert Lang says:
          (link)

          @Wake Up, Indeed, a great debate. Good luck to you and thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

          We’ll see who ends up correct.

  19. TheNewGuy says:
    (link)

    Wow busy thread tonight! Nice post on Ellsbury, makes me think differently about him now, will definately consider taking him if the times right.

    On a totally unrelated matter, just been offered Mike Minor for Aroyds Vizcaino (both on minor league teams) in my keeper league. I’ve been after Minor for a while and whist Arodys has a good arm, I can’t see him holding down a valueable position with the Braves. Can you see him being anything else than a 7th inning guy in the next few years? That staff is young and nasty. Whereas I think Minor can breakout this year…like the deal?

    • Albert Lang

      Albert Lang says:
      (link)

      @TheNewGuy, Thanks for the comment, welcome to the party.

      People/scouts seem to like Aroyds a lot, but there is a real and legit fear the Braves banish him to the bull pen. Meanwhile, Minor could end up with the most IPs on that Braves staff.

      I’d take Minor and the certainty and let someone else take on the risk of Aroyds. I think you should pounce on it.

      • TheNewGuy says:
        (link)

        @Albert Lang, Thanks its already done anyway, glad you approve of it. I guess the only way it could blow up in my face is if Arodys gets traded! That way he’d have an avenue to a rotation spot. As it is am I right in thinking Minor should be nailed on to the 5th rotation spot providing a non-disastrous spring? Kids got very good K numbers whereever he’s been, and so should be a nice player long term. And there’s Delgado around too, no way can I see Arodys starting for the Braves, and they’re well stacked in the pen with Kimb and JV.

        • Albert Lang

          Albert Lang says:
          (link)

          @TheNewGuy, I think there’s a 40% chance Minor ends up with the most innings in that rotation at the end of 2012 and he should be a solid #4 SP, with upside.

          • TheNewGuy says:
            (link)

            @Albert Lang, Sounds good. Noone seems to ever talk about him (at least outside of Braves fans) but I think he could be a very valuable keeper in my format, and a valuable fantasy player with his Ks. I can promote him this year for $0 and then keep him for $4 (1yr) $6 (2yrs) or $8(3yrs) next year. I like the sound of that!

            • Albert Lang

              Albert Lang says:
              (link)

              @TheNewGuy, that does indeed sounds like a good setup to me.

  20. Albert Lang

    Albert Lang says:
    (link)

    Wanted to thank everyone for all the comments!! nearly 100 so far (of course it’s like half me :-).

    Looking forward for more debates!!

  21. Skeptic says:
    (link)

    Where’s ells rank in a tb/r/RBI/k/obp/slg/avg/sbnet format? Great thread!

    • Albert Lang

      Albert Lang says:
      (link)

      @Skeptic, that’s a heck of a unique question.

      Tb and runs should be near the top.

      RBIs he’ll be maybe in the 30-45 range.

      He doesnt strike out a ton, so that’s good.

      He should post a .370 OBP, bat .300.

      SBNET is kind of a toss up, was bad last year, but still think he’ll net 32 bases.

  22. The Talented Mr. Dope man says:
    (link)

    Jesus, haters really “came outta the closet” on this one… But I guess I’d everyone agreed on this shizz it would make for some boring ass drafts.

    • Albert Lang

      Albert says:
      (link)

      @The Talented Mr. Dope man, Just some good friendly debate, I muddied the waters a tad by jumping from thread to thread.

      But yeah, grey and i didnt think this column was as interesting as this! I gotta figure out what i did and channel it into other writing!

  23. Swaggerjackers says:
    (link)

    Albert Lang for Prez

    • Albert Lang

      Albert says:
      (link)

      @Swaggerjackers, Man, I dont think that would be a good idea :-).

      My unique blend of conservatism and liberalism would result in some asinine policies…although it’d be cool to meet some of the sports teams, not the New York Giants though (i’m a bitter eagles fan).

      If you want to start a PAC though, I’ll consider it!

  24. KyleJo says:
    (link)

    How does Corey Hart not make the top 100, yet you are obsessed with Jay Bruce? The difference between the two is what, Hart’s higher ISO’s the last two years, or is it Hart’s higher batting average?

  25. KyleJo says:
    (link)

    ha wrong post

Comments are closed.