The Yankees made a big splash when they signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a 7 year, $153MM contract in December. Whether you liked the signing or didn’t, it was huge news. The Yankees, who had gone into the offseason looking for offensive upgrades, had signed one of the better outfielders in the game. Better yet, they took him away from their biggest rivals, the Boston Red Sox. After almost two months, I think I’m ready to weigh in.
When the season first began, Ellsbury was hitting the tar off of the ball. In his first 28 games, the former Red Sox hit .346/.403/.505 with 13 extra-base hits, 14 RBI and 10 SB. Not only that, but he seemingly made a big defensive play–be it a diving effort, a leap or just covering a lot of ground to make a catch–in every game. I know the Yankees had Brett Gardner already, who is one of the better defensive center fielders in baseball on his own, but he wasn’t hitting .346 now, was he?
After that, Ellsbury’s bat just about disappeared, and he hit just .111/.208/.143 over his next 17 games, with 2 extra-base hits, 1 RBI and 1 SB. That’s a pretty significant drop in production. During this time, the Yankees also lost Carlos Beltran to injury, and Ellsbury has had to bat third a lot, which kind of changes his game. However, that’s not an excuse he would ever use, so we’re not using it either. The important thing about his slump at the plate is that it hasn’t at all affected his play in the field. He’s still making fantastic plays every other day, which is a big part of the reason the Yankees signed him in the first place.
Last night, against the White Sox, Ellsbury had his first good night at the plate in a while, going 2-5 with a couple of runs scored. He also hit his first home run in three weeks (2nd of the year), an eventual game winner in the top of the 10th. That home run helped him snap a homerless streak of 19 games, and also snapped a two game losing streak for the bombers. He seems to be coming around a bit with the bat. While I don’t expect him to hit .346 over the course of a full season, I also know he isn’t a .111 hitter. Hopefully, he’s begun his climb back to .300, where he’ll hopefully be for the next six years too.
Featured image courtesy of: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
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