Jacoby Ellsbury looks good. Like really, really good. He creates win for the Red Sox at the plate, on the base paths, and in the field.
For example, in Wednesday’s game against the Oakland A’s with the game tied at three in the fifth inning, Jacoby stepped to the plate and chopped a slow grounder past the pitcher and to the second basemen’s right. Oakland second basemen, Andy Parrino, tried to bare-hand the grounder and throw to first in one motion. He never controlled the ball due to Jacoby’s speed and effort,—Jacoby on first.
A’s pitcher Brett Anderson is left-handed. He still had no chance of keeping Jacoby from stealing second. Jacoby stole. Then Anderson, with Shane Victorino at the plate, Jacoby on second and nobody out, threw only inside pitches to Victorino, most of those pitches off-speed, in the hopes of preventing Victorino from hitting the ball to the right side and moving the go-ahead run to third with one out and Pedroia, followed by Big Papi, due up next. The result: Anderson threw Victorino multiple inside curveballs; Victorino adjusted to Anderson’s strategy after fouling off a couple of inside pitches, and ripped a double down the left field line to score Jacoby from second; the score now 4-3 Red Sox. The Sox went on to score two more runs that inning.
The new sabermetric baseball stats, as well as the old-school stats, fail to properly quantify Ellsbury’s impact. His speed forced the second baseman to bare-hand the ball, and cough it up. He then stole second, with ease, off a lefty. And due to Jacoby’s his speed again, Victorino saw only off-speed and inside pitches.
Combine his stats so far this season with the multi-dimensional impact his speed supplies, and Ellsbury will be one of the most dominant position players in the American League at season’s end. He leads the MLB in steals with 10 while the next closest guy has seven steals. Not to mention he remains the only player in the top five without being caught stealing at least once.
His power ability will round into form. You can see it in his stance and his swing. He already leads the league in triples with three. Expect multiple months of 5-plus homers later in the season.