Without a doubt, preparations and research are already being done on the binder that Scott Boras will send to teams as a centerpiece in his efforts to convince some club that Jacoby Ellsbury is worthy of giving a nine-figure contract. But he might save himself him time, and just ship out DVDs of Saturday night’s Red Sox-Royals game.
In one, tidy three-hour-and-28-minute package, the center fielder displayed all the areas in which he has the ability to impact the game, connecting for two singles and two doubles, driving in two, stealing a base, and making a couple of above-average defensive plays that helped spare the Sox a few runs.
All that was missing, really, was a home run – but Ellsbury hit two of those in one game a few days ago, and he’s got four since the All-Star break to continue a torrid stretch that dates all the way back to a walkoff hit in late May and has reinstalled him as one of the premier players in the game.
That’s not a subjective opinion, either. Even with a slow start that left his batting average mired in the .240s after seven weeks, after Saturday’s 4-for-5 performance, Ellsbury now ranks fifth among American League position players in Wins Above Replacement (according to the Baseball-Reference.com formula), his 5.1 trailing only the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera (6.5), the Angels’ Mike Trout (6.3), and the Orioles’ tandem of Manny Machado (5.3) and Chris Davis (5.1). Talk about elite company.
Fangraphs.com calculates WAR a little differently. But they still hold Ellsbury in elite regard. Per those calculations, Ellsbury has been worth 4.6 wins above the replacement-level player, putting him in a tie for 11th in all of baseball and 6th in the AL, behind the four aforementioned players and the Rays’ Evan Longoria.
Fangraphs takes its value estimations one step further, too – and this is where Red Sox fans should really make a point to enjoy Ellsbury this season, because he’s playing his way into an enormous contract that’ll likely come elsewhere. Having determined the dollar value of a victory by weighing a wide variety of factors, and the market, the site says Ellsbury’s contributions this year have been worth $22.8 million to the Red Sox. And it’s not even midway through August.
There’ll be other factors considered when a team decides what it’ll offer Ellsbury this winter, specifically that he’ll be turning 30 next month, that he’s missed a significant chunk of two seasons with injuries, that his power isn’t what it appeared to be when he nearly won the MVP two years ago. As a result, it’s unlikely anyone will be him $22.8 million on the open market.
But Saturday was certainly a reminder that – binder or not – there’s a decent chance Boras will convince somebody to come close.
|Jacoby Ellsbury, CF||4-for-5, 2 RBI, 2 2B, SB: The one thing Ellsbury didn’t do was score. He was forced out, thrown out trying to turn a double into a triple, and stranded twice on a night the Sox went 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position.|
|Shane Victorino, RF||1-for-5, K, SB: The steal was his 15th of the year, putting Victorino on track to finish the year in the neighborhood of .290, 10 homers, 20 steals. With his excellent defense, that’d be a really nice season.|
|Dustin Pedroia, 2B||1-for-4, BB, 2 K: In case you’re curious, he ranks 6th among AL position players in Baseball-Reference’s WAR calculations, and 18th according to Fangraphs. The former rates him as the AL’s most valuable infield defender, and second only to KC outfielder Lorenzo Cain at any position.|
|David Ortiz, DH||0-for-4, BB, K: He came up twice with runners in scoring position and failed to get them home both times.|
|Mike Carp, LF||2-for-3, R, BB: Carp had been in a bit of a funk, though a couple of hits is an encouraging indication that he could be heating up again.|
|Mike Napoli, 1B||0-for-4, 3 K: Just when it was beginning to look as though Napoli getting bumped down the lineup and given a night off might’ve sparked a change of fortune, the only contact he made was a flyout to center.|
|Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C||1-for-4, R, K: His impending free agency is discussed far less than Ellsbury’s – but as of now his .779 OPS is just a fraction behind Pedroia’s .781 and Napoli’s .783. For a catcher, that’s fantastic.|
|Stephen Drew, SS||1-for-4, R, 2B, RBI, K: Another productive night for the shortstop, whose double with one out and two on in the fourth opened the scoring for the Sox.|
|Will Middlebrooks, 3B||2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI: He made a big contribution in his first game back in the bigs after seven weeks at Triple-A, stretching the Sox’ lead to 3-0 after Drew’s double. He left Pawtucket on a seven-game hitting streak, so there’s a chance the timing was perfect as far as riding the hot bat.|
|Felix Doubront, SP||4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K: He kept alive his streak of starts allowing three earned runs or less, though he was pulled after 98 pitches and four grinding innings. Part of the problem was falling behind 10 of the 22 men he faced.|
|Brandon Workman, RP||1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 K: They’d prefer not to call upon him quite that early, but otherwise Workman fulfilled exactly the role he’s expected to play. Working parts of two innings, he got three of his four outs via strikeout, and kept the score where it was.|
|Craig Breslow, RP||0.2 IP: One batter, six pitches, five strikes, double play. Can’t ask for much better than that from the lefty.|
|Junichi Tazawa, RP||2 IP, 2 H, 2 K: Tazawa has been really good lately, and Saturday was no different. He came on against the heart of Kansas City’s lineup and twice pitched around doubles to keep the lead at 5-3.|
|Koji Uehara, RP||1 IP: Save No. 12 was perfect for the right-hander, who induced two grounders and a fly to left.|
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