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2011 Fantasy Baseball Debate: Jacoby Ellsbury vs. Brett Gardner

SARASOTA, FL - MARCH 05:  Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox fouls off a pitch against the Baltimore Orioles during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Ed Smith Stadium on March 5, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images
Mike HarrisContributor IMarch 8, 2011

Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner: two outfielders with similar make-up, playing for the enemy and being drafted approximately 110 picks apart.

If Ellsbury is going off the board as the No. 18 OF, should Gardner really be the No. 44 OF off the board?

Let’s first examine their last full seasons:

  • 2009 Ellsbury (Age 25) in 693 PAs: .301/94 R/8 HR/60 RBI/49 BB/70 SB (81 percent of the time from the leadoff position)
  • 2010 Gardner (Age 26) in 569 PAs: .277/97 R/5 HR/47 RBI/79 BB/47 SB (20 percent of the time from the leadoff position—59 percent of the time from the eight or nine-hole)

If you want to extrapolate Gardner’s plate appearances for a finer comparison, have at it:

  • Ellsbury: .301/94 R/8 HR/60 RBI/49 BB/70 SB
  • Gardner: .277/118 R/6 HR/57 RBI/96 BB/57 SB

Wow—we’re pretty much looking at very similar players if they get equal plate appearances.

This argument holds even more water for 2011 since Ellsbury will most likely be batting in the lower half of the Red Sox lineup—much like Gardner—although the NY Daily News is reporting otherwise.

We’ll just have to wait and see, but let’s assume they will get equal plate appearances in 2011.

My 2011 Projections give the slight edge to Ellsbury, unless your league counts walks, in which case I would then rank them equally:

  • Ellsbury .290/95/10/55/60
  • Gardner .280/100/5/50/50

Why not pass on Ellsbury, wait eight or nine rounds later and take Brett Gardner who will give you similar stats at a fraction of the price?

That’s what I’m doing in drafts.

Red Sox fans—you might want to swallow some pride and follow suit. This is your fantasy baseball team we’re talking about!

Go ahead. I won’t tell.


Mike is a Senior Writer for where this, and other work, can be found. Additionally, he is co-host of The 4th and Home Show on Blog Talk Radio.

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