Re: Jacoby Ellsbury - Starting point for next contract
posted at 8/30/2013 10:27 PM EDT
First, let me say that I really would love to have Ellsbury leading off for the next 3-5 years or more. Probably boom is the only poster on this site that has spent more time and posts defending Jacoby against the likes of softy. He brings a lot to the table. His fielding instincts have improved. His running into outs has declined sharply. His arm is weak, but that is not as important as many make it out to be.
Secondly, trying to pinpoint his value is hard to do on many levels. His ulimate monetary value will be determined by the most generous or desperate GM. From the Sox perspective, and the understanding that our budget is not unlimited, I think we should think long and hard about the most we should offer and how the offer will effect our future payroll budget. If the number is close to $17-20M a year times 4-7 years, like I think it will be, then we will have to make sacrifices at other positions of need to do so. That does not mean it will not be worth it, but his re-signing will have a big impact on future moves, extensions, and trades.
Finally, I have to look at it this way: the Sox seem to have taken a step back and re-evaluated their choices on longterm deals. The Pedey extension shows they are willing to go large & long combined for the right guy, but as much as Ellsbury brings to the table, I have to think choosing a player like Ellsbury to make the big plunge, perhaps the only "big plunge" we will make in years may have one serious flaw: Ellsbury is not one of the elite hitters in MLB. Yes, the other skills offsets that fact to a large extent, but to me, a $20M a year longterm deal has to go to a stud hitter or pitcher. The fielding and baserunning are certainly valuable, but I just can't see forking over that much money to a player with such little power and an OBP below .380.
I know many here do not trust WAR and metrics of any sort, but looking at just the batting portion of WAR on the fangraph's value page for all MLB players with 300 or more PAs this year (all 231 or them), Ellsbury rates number 79. That places him near the top of the middle third hitters in MLB. That's hardly a guy I'd choose to make take the big plunge on.
Yes, it will hurt to lose him. No, we do not have a leadoff hitter close to his skillset. But, with close to $20M to spend, assuming the money for Ellsbury will be spent elsewhere, I think we can upgrade at enough positions to offset the loss.
He has the 44th best OBP in MLB (out of 231 players with 300+ PAs this year).
That's not even top 3 on the Sox.
He's 97th in SLG%. That's closer to average than top 60.
That's 7th on the Sox.
He's 78th in OPS. again, middle thrid in the league.
7th on the Sox.
I value SBs. My favorite childhood all time baseball player was Tommy Harper. I love great fielding, and Ellsbury is very very good at a key position. I'm not saying hitting is everything, but these numbers just don't look like $20M a year to me. Not even $18M a year.
Go back to include 2011. Out of 280 MLb players with 750+ PAs, Ellsbury places 44th in OPS. (52nd in OBP & 47th in OBP) His OBP is the most important as our leadoff hitter, and this is where he places on the Sox in OBP since 2011:
1) .400 Papi
2) .371 Pedey
3) .370 Nava
4) .357 Ellsbury
.357 is nice, but for a leadoff hitter with questionable power, I'm thinking that's not $18M territory. Yes, if you count the singles and SBs as dbls, his SLG% goes up, and the minimal CS'ings would minimally reduce the numbers if added, but I just can't see $18M x 5 or 6 years. I'll hate to see him go, but with that kind of money and a comp draft pick, I think we'll do fine for many years to come.