Sunday, March 13, 2011

2011 Position Preview: Center Field

If there were a poll of all Boston girls from the ages, say, 16-30, with the question being "Which Boston athlete would you most like to sleep with?" my guess would be that Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury would finish in the top 5, mixed in somewhere with Brady, Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin. (What do they have that I don't, besides incredible talent with an even more incredible bank account). Ellsbury is also a fan favorite of the men too, although for different reasons. Although people label him as a pretty boy, he plays extremely hard and has range in center field that is a rare find across the league. With such a massive center field that Fenway sports, that's huge. 

To go along with his brilliant play in center field, Ellsbury has been a nice lead off hitter for this team. In his two full seasons (he only played in 18 games last season due to a rib injury), he averaged a .346 OBP with an average of 96 runs scored and 60 stolen bases. He also led the league in steals in both of those years. The main issue people have with Ellsbury coming into the season is whether or not he can overcome the rib injury he suffered last year. Reports out of Ft. Lauderdale all seem good for Ellsbury. 

Assuming the reports are true and Ellsbury truly is coming into the 2011 campaign with a clean bill of health, he should be poised for a nice year in the lead off spot. He now has so much protection behind him in the lineup, as he will be immediately followed by Pedroia, Crawford, Gonzalez and Youk. This combination should mean more runs scored, which is the most important stat for a lead off man, in my humble opinion. Also, teaming up with Carl Crawford, the Red Sox could have the best stolen base tandem in baseball. Here are my predictions for Jacoby's 2011 season.

.296 BA, 6 HR, 54 RBI, 102 R, 63 SB, .358 OBP, 3.5 fWAR

Oh yeah, and boyish good looks.

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