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.
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.