Fleet-footed in center, a terror on the bases, more than able at the plate — Ellsbury was the proof that the Red Sox were doing something right on the farm. He was part of the next great wave of talent for Boston.
But before Ellsbury could fulfill all of those expectations, he went on a few injury detours. No one needs the gory details, but let's just say there were some bruised ribs and bruised egos in the process.
It got so bad that some of Ellsbury's teammates even felt the need to publicly question the young center fielder.
Jump to fall 2011, when Ellsbury was one of the few guys still performing as the team slid into oblivion. He held the team's offense together with an MVP-caliber season, finishing second in the voting to an incomparable Justin Verlander.
What happened in between? Well, Ellsbury got healthy, and he also heated up.
And while he had many great moments last season, perhaps none were better than Aug. 2 and 3, when Ellsbury smashed walk-off hits two nights in a row to win games for the Sox at Fenway Park.
On Aug. 2, Ellsbury drilled a single with one out to give the Red Sox a 3-2 win over Cleveland.
Then, on Aug. 3, also against the Indians, Ellsbury put Boston ahead for good with another walk off — this time, a home run. Boston won 4-3.
Ellsbury said he had never hit a walk-off home run before at any level in his life, and this one was a beauty, disappearing over the center-field fence.
Before Ellsbury's feat, the last Red Sox player to drive in the winning runs on a walk off two games in a row was Butch Hobson in 1978, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.