…Jacoby Ellsbury for MVP. This is my first ever Sox-dedicated write-up, but I still feel a little weird about campaigning for my favorite team’s best player as the MLB MVP. Nevermind the fact that the Navajo Warrior is putting up career numbers for the AL’s best team (thus, MLB’s best team) while staying healthy for the first time in a long time, it just seems unfair for me to plug my own shit like this.
Okay, I’m over the moral dilemma already, seriously, Jacoby for MVP. In this year of what has seems to be the pitcher’s reclamation of the sport, Jacoby Ellsbury is putting up 5-Tool stud numbers while simultaneously emerging as a developing leader in a clubhouse filled with developed leaders. Batting at the top of one of the most formidable line-ups in baseball (yes, I will be continually slurping the Sawx throughout this article with such phrases as “one of the most formidable” and “arguably the best”) Ellsbury has done pretty well for himself. What follows is the statistical breakdown, and if you’re like me you’ll probably skim over it, but I need to throw it in here just because some people enjoy it, John Hollinger, for instance. Nerds. Anyways, Jacoby is 4th in the MLB right now in hits, 2nd in Runs scored, 6th in stolen bases, top-25 in batting average and on-base percentage, and he’s got a career high 19 HR’s. Throw those into the pot that includes Coby’s SICK range in center along with an arm that makes Boston think of Johnny Damon every time he throws (They see Coby throw and they laugh and say, “Holy shit, you remember when we thought Damon was a good center fielder?!”), stir, and you’ve got the leading MVP candidate for the American League right now.
The only thing that may take away from Coby’s chances is the fact that the likely 2nd-place finisher will be coming from his own team, in the form of “Yo!” Adrian Gonzalez. Yes, inevitably some Yankees will be in the discussion (Curtis Granderson has the best shot), as will the omnipresent Miguel Cabrera and HR King Jose Bautista. But Boston’s pair will run away with first and second, and as of late, Ellsbury is the front-runner.
In the past 30 days, only Albert Pujols and Emilio Bonafacio have scored more runs than ‘Cob. In that same time, only Dan Uggla and Pujols have slugged more HRs, and nobody has more RBIs during this stretch. Yeah, his SB numbers have dipped a bit, but he’s sick of running, preferring to slug and save his base-path terror for the playoffs. Finishing the past 30 days with a 336 average, and 375 OBP and a 600 slugging percentage?! Nobody is hotter at a better time than Jacoby Ellsbury.
This is even more impressive given the fact that I was ready to give up on ‘Cob just a year ago when he was sitting out nursing some rib injuries. I remember hearing whispers that he wasn’t listening to Red Sox brass (the same brass that butted heads with that clown Dice-K) and he was trying to do his own thing in regards to recovery and resting. This coming from the barely above average CF that cost us obtaining Roy Halladay when the Jays dangled him years ago. Needless to say, I was ready to wash my hands of him. Flash forward to today, and he’s an untouchable in my book. A rare combination of speed and power that seems to have finally grown into the huge shoes us Fenway-ers put in front of him when he first stepped out to that expansive CF gap.
I get it that Yo Adrian is the new addition, thus the easiest piece to look at and say “He’s the reason” when discussing this year’s improvement. Yeah, last year’s 89 wins is on pace to be eclipsed by this year’s team, as is the playoff no-show from last year. However, it’s less Crawford/Gonzalez than it is the emergence of Jacoby. As I said, the kid struggled last year, a lot of that being attributed to injuries, but he was not good. Neither was the rest of the team, but this year, everything is clicking. Yeah, Yo Adrian is MASHING the ball, but his RBI #s wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are now if Jacoby wasn’t so damn hot. What if Marco Scutaro was at the top of our lineup? We still have the win total as we do now? No. Does Adrian still have the RBIs he has? No. The leadoff man is almost always the most important cog in a batting order, they’re the table setter. Their success is integral to getting the early runs that tend to be back breakers to non-elite pitchers. When ‘Cob can leadoff with a double, or a HR, that gets the rest of the lineup buzzing.
Take Jacoby Ellsbury from the Sox lineup this year, and you take first place from our grasp. You put us in a battle for the Wild Card. You take us from the elite and throw us in an above average discussion. For this reason, the MVP is Jacoby Ellsbury’s to lose, and Adrian Gonzalez’s to work towards winning.
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