Jacoby Ellsbury Injured? As Boston's Best CF in 60 Years, Red Sox Sure Hope Not

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
Jacoby Ellsbury Injured? As Boston's Best CF in 60 Years, Red Sox Sure Hope Not
J. Meric/Getty Images
Jacoby Ellsbury: This post might contain the first-ever mention of Dom DiMaggio at Bleacher Report.

Just how good was Jacoby Ellsbury last year? By at least one measure he was the best Red Sox outfielder of the last 62 years. As we wait to find out how long Ellsbury will be out after today’s shoulder injury (if at all), consider just how hard a player of his caliber would be to replace.

The Red Sox faced this same issue in 2010, when Ellsbury lost almost the entire season to five broken ribs, but he had yet to play at the level he did in 2011.

Wins Above Replacement depicts how many wins a player contributed over and above what would have been supplied by a “replacement-level” player, usually defined as being a Triple-A veteran or player who would be freely available on the waiver wire.

Using this kind of measure, we can compare players across time. For the purposes of this exercise, I’m using Baseball Prospectus’s sortable WARP engine. All of the stats are the ones you would expect with the exception of Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA), which attempts to measure how many runs a player saved with his glove. Here is the top 15, Truman-Eisenhower years and up:

#

YEAR

NAME

AB

R

H

HR

RBI

BB

SB

FRAA

AVG

OBP

SLG

WARP

1

2011

J. Ellsbury

660

119

212

32

105

52

39

11.6

.321

.376

.552

8.6

2

1979

F. Lynn

531

116

177

39

122

82

2

4

.333

.423

.637

8.1

3

1970

R.Smith

580

109

176

22

74

51

10

12.5

.303

.361

.497

6.5

4

1971

R. Smith

618

85

175

30

96

63

11

6.2

.283

.352

.489

6.1

5

1969

R. Smith

543

87

168

25

93

54

7

9.3

.309

.368

.527

6

6

1956

J. Piersall

601

91

176

14

87

58

7

14

.293

.350

.449

5.7

7

2004

J. Damon

621

123

189

20

94

76

19

9.4

.304

.380

.477

5.5

8

2005

J. Damon

624

117

197

10

75

53

18

12.4

.316

.366

.439

5.5

9

1973

R. Smith

423

79

128

21

69

68

3

7.7

.303

.398

.515

5.4

10

1975

F. Lynn

528

103

175

21

105

62

10

-7.3

.331

.401

.566

5.4

11

1968

R. Smith

558

78

148

15

69

64

22

3.3

.265

.342

.430

5.3

12

1964

C. Yastrzemski

567

77

164

15

67

75

6

13.3

.289

.374

.451

5.2

13

1950

D. Dimaggio

588

131

193

7

70

82

15

6.7

.328

.414

.452

5.1

14

1988

E. Burks

540

93

159

18

92

62

25

2.2

.294

.367

.481

4.7

15

1976

F. Lynn

507

76

159

10

65

48

14

0.8

.314

.367

.467

4.6

A few quick notes:

1. It’s always good to be reminded of how good a player Reggie Smith was. A switch-hitter with power, patience, and speed, he could do a bit of everything. Due to injuries his career didn’t have the long wind-down that might have given him bigger career numbers, but he was better than any number of Hall of Famers.

2. Another reminder: the incompetence of the Heywood Sullivan-Buddy LeRoux-managed front office that cost the Red Sox both Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn during the 1980-1981 offseason. Lynn had his injury problems, but he was made for Fenway, with career averages of .350/.423/.608 there. How do you screw that up? A: By not sending him a contract, that’s how.

3. Yaz really did get one year of center field play early in his career due to Gary Geiger’s forced retirement due to stomach problems.

Maybe the Sox should have gone harder after Yoenis Cespedes. Again, we have yet to learn Ellsbury’s ultimate fate, and even if the Sox were loaded with outfield prospects, you can’t easily replace a six- or eight-win player. It’s scary just how good Ellsbury was in 2011—and how much his loss might hurt in 2012.

Load More Stories

Follow Boston Red Sox from B/R on Facebook

Follow Boston Red Sox from B/R on Facebook and get the latest updates straight to your newsfeed!

Out of Bounds

Boston Red Sox

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.