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How Would Jacoby Ellsbury Fit in with Mariners Lineup, Safeco Field?

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How Would Jacoby Ellsbury Fit in with Mariners Lineup, Safeco Field?
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Jacoby Ellsbury will no doubt be one of the top free agents available this offseason.

The Boston Red Sox outfielder is represented by Scott Boras, which means Ellsbury's services will likely go to the highest bidder.

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports the Seattle Mariners could be that team to get Ellsbury:

The M’s are deep in young, affordable position players, with a mere $33.257 million committed to their 2014 payroll, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Ellsbury, who is from Madras, Or., and attended Oregon State, could fill two voids, leading off and playing center field.

If this were to come to fruition, how would Ellsbury fit in with the Mariners lineup and Safeco Field?

 

Inside the Numbers

There's no doubt adding Ellsbury to the leadoff spot and center field would benefit the Mariners, both offensively and defensively.

For starters, let's look at the numbers over the last three years (through Monday):

Inside the Numbers - Seattle Mariners and Jacob Ellsbury (2011-13)
AVG XBH SB OPS
Ellsbury .304 146 95 .833
Mariners CF .229 129 44 .649
Mariners Leadoff .250 113 66 .651

Baseball-Reference.com

The numbers clearly show Ellsbury would provide the Mariners an upgrade on offense at both leadoff and from center field.

While the Mariners haven't been known as much of a running team this year (50 stolen-base attempts), that doesn't mean their philosophy won't change in the future.

All it takes is a speedster at the top of the lineup, and everything changes.

 

Safeco Field

The place where Ellsbury would play also could play a large role.

Safeco Field is almost similarly shaped as Fenway Park is. Batting left-handed, Ellsbury will be able to take advantage of the deep gaps in left-center. 

The main difference is he'll have 15 feet less to hit it if he gets a hold of one, as the deepest part of Safeco is 405 feet, compared to 420 feet at Fenway.

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One advantage Fenway does have here, however, is the various nooks and crannies along the outfield wall. 

 

The Key

While having Ellsbury would be a nice addition, the Mariners must also ensure there is power in the lineup behind him.

Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales are both free agents, and re-signing at least one is a must. 

There are no great offensive prospects coming up from the minor leagues, so the Mariners are going to have to look to spend on a few more free agents as well.

With multiple holes on the diamond, just Ellsbury and one of Morales or Morse won't do the trick. A good No. 2 hitter will be huge, as will the continued progression of Kyle Seager. 

If all of those pieces can fall into place, the Mariners just might make some noise in 2014.

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