Jacoby Ellsbury’s season has essentially been a microcosm of his career.
He’s been up. He’s been down. He’s been injured. He’s been criticized. He’s been defended. And he’s been arguably the most difficult player on the Red Sox to gauge.
Sounds familiar, right?
This season is a big one for Ellsbury because of his impending free agency. The hope was that Ellsbury could shed some light on what exactly his ceiling is going forward, yet more than two months into the season, we’re left with more questions than answers. The 2013 rollercoaster ride has been every bit as unpredictable as the career-long journey.
One thing that can be said with a great deal of certainty, however, is that Ellsbury will always be one of those players who drives you nuts. That’s because when the going is good, it’s really good. And when the going is bad, it’s hard to refrain from pulling your hair out.
We’re only two weeks removed from Ellsbury’s groin injury, which forced him to miss an entire series in the Bronx and naturally brought tons of criticism upon him — whether deserved or not. The tune is once again changing. Ellsbury is hitting .407 since returning June 6, which continues a hot streak that began about 10 games before he was forced to the sideline for five straight contests. He’s showing great patience, he’s an on-base machine and he’s being an absolute menace on the basepaths. In other words, he’s performing like a perfect leadoff hitter.
Ellsbury went 1-for-3 with two walks and two stolen bases on Wednesday. It gives him steals in five straight games — including two steals in three of those games — and he has an American League-leading 29 stolen bases overall. Ellsbury now has an 11-game hit streak dating back to May 26, and he has a .400 average and .500 on-base percentage in that stretch.
Ellsbury’s ongoing success comes about a month after John Farrell wouldn’t rule out moving the leadoff hitter down in the lineup if his May swoon continued. That shows how much things can change over the course of a season, especially when it comes to Ellsbury, who will still be a difficult free agent to slap a dollar figure on at year’s end.
For now, however, free agency isn’t the focus. Instead, Ellsbury and the Red Sox should be focused on one thing — riding the current hot streak. When everything’s clicking, Ellsbury is a force atop Boston’s order. And right now, everything’s clicking.