Boston Red Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury's Walk-off Hits Have Put Him in MVP Conversation

Adam MacDonald@adammacdoAnalyst IIAugust 4, 2011

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 3:  Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates his game-winning home run in the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park on August 3, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Adrian Gonzalez leads all of baseball in hits, batting average and runs batted in. He has not had the power year many expected him to have when the Red Sox acquired him in the offseason with only 18 home runs, but in every other category, he has been phenomenal.

Naturally, his name is front and foremost in every conversation about potential MVP winners. Toronto slugger Jose Bautista, who leads the Majors with 32 home runs, is also in the running. So is Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson. Gonzalez's teammate Dustin Pedroia is there, too.

But with walk-off hits in each of the last two games, is Jacoby Ellsbury starting to become a contender for Most Valuable Player?

Ellsbury missed all but 18 games last season with a rib injury and relations between him and the team's medical staff were clearly not good at the best of times.

When the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford, who is a very similar player, last December, rumors started circling that Theo Epstein was preparing to trade Ellsbury at some point.

If he was thinking that, he's not anymore. Ells is having by far the best season of his career. He will not break his own franchise record of 70 stolen bases from 2009, but he will likely set new career-highs in average, OBP, slugging, hits, home runs, runs, RBI, wOBA, walks and doubles.

Of course, most will say that Ellsbury is not even the MVP on his own team, with that honor going to Gonzalez or perhaps Pedroia. That is almost certainly true, but there is at least now a conversation to be had.

Gonzalez and Ells are tied in home runs (18). Adrian leads in the three-hole categories (RBI, slugging percentage); Ellsbury leads in leadoff categories (non-intentional walks, stolen bases). And somewhat surprisingly, FanGraphs has them tied in fielding, with an 11 UZR/150.

Jacoby Ellsbury should certainly be ahead of fellow CF Granderson, at any rate. Granderson has more home runs and RBI, but Ellsbury bests him in average (by 39 points), OBP (by six), steals (by 11), hits (by 30), doubles (by 12) and WAR (5.7 to 4.9).

If Curtis Granderson is in the MVP conversation, Jacoby Ellsbury deserves a thought, too.