Are we comfortable with Ellsbury leading off?

Evan BrunellFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2009

Ops+ 83.

That is Ellsbury's Adjusted OPS. Far from a perfect metric, but serves the purpose.

But even with that, I know that the most at bats on the team should probably not go to to an OPS+ of 83.  However, I also know that there are not too many other solutions to this. 

Drew was a good option, but struggled mightily.  He took his pitches, worked the count, and of course Drew reaches base often.  But he struggled.  And it doesn't hurt to have him bat a little lower in the order, with the power that he does possess when he gets on a hot streak. 

Pedroia is the best option, but doesn't feel comfortable doing so.  If he did, then he would easily be the best available.  His ability to hit for average, work counts, and get on base would be more than worthy to give the most at bats too. 

But Pedey doesn't feel comfortable.  So we move on. 

The only other option is really a non-option.  Because Jed Lowrie hasn't proved anything at this level yet.  I want him to play short, but he needs to hit before we could ever dream of him leading off.  However, he does present a possible option.  He's a switch hitter, and generally can reach base, or did at the Minor League level.  But until then, we need much more.  Lowrie could be that guy.  But "could" is definitely not worth slotting him in there quite yet.  If Ells continues to struggle some, and Lowrie gets hot.  Then the switch could potentially be made. 

But until then...

Luckily, Ellsbury has played his best over second half stretches.  The numbers do not present us with that information, not the first and second half splits anyway.  But Jacoby had a very strong finish to the season in 2008, batting .340/.367/.521 in September.  However, before that, Ellsbury struggled in the three previous months. 

And we remember in 2007, when the league hadn't adjusted to Ellsbury yet, or really knew anything about him for that matter.  But he tore up the league, again, in September, hitting .361/.390/.536. 

These are very small samples, but September isn't exactly that far away, barely over a month.  So if he actually feels good around then, and starts swinging the bat, then the Red Sox could have a very good lead-off hitter. 

Right now though?  I don't really like giving the most AB's to an OPS+ of 83.  Potentially, he could finish the season hot.  But for now, I just wish Pedroia would resume batting first. 

However, if our 2B doesn't feel comfortable, then I guess there is nothing we can do about that...

Except hope Ellsbury comes through...

Your thoughts?