A Broken Man When He Last Left Kansas City, Jacoby Ellsbury Returns an Elite Talent

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August 18, 2011

A Broken Man When He Last Left Kansas City, Jacoby Ellsbury Returns an Elite Talent When Jacoby Ellsbury steps on the field Thursday at Kauffman Stadium, he may want to walk down the left-field line. There, he will find the shattered pieces of his 2010 season.

It was in this park some 16 months ago that Ellsbury, then still considered somewhat of an up-and-comer who had been thrust from his regular position to accommodate an over-the-hill Mike Cameron, took on Adrian Beltre in a race for a foul pop.

Beltre won. As a result, Ellsbury lost pretty much the rest of his season.

It is rather remarkable how much things have changed for Ellsbury in between visits to Kansas City. The All-Star not only returns healthy, but he is beginning to compile one of the more impressive seasons for a leadoff hitter in baseball history.

And with two home runs in that doubleheader Tuesday, he heads back to the Show Me State under the guise of a legitimate 30/30 watch.

Ellsbury surpassed 30 steals last month. That total was a foregone conclusion. It is his most recent power surge that has talk of the milestone increasing. Only 15 players in American League history have ever reached that mark, the last being Ian Kinsler of Texas in 2009. No Red Sox player has ever achieved the feat. Nomar Garciaparra flirted with it in 1997, when he hit 30 homers and stole 22 bases. Carl Yastrzemski had 40 homers and 23 steals in 1970. The 20-20 mark was reached four other times in team history prior to Ellsbury.

With 40 games to play, Ellsbury needs eight home runs. In his previous 40, he hammered 13, so the pace is in his favor. Heck, with just a slight uptick he may even flirt with 40/40 status, a mark achieved just four times in baseball history.

Indeed, the player Royals fans will see this weekend is not the one they saw the last time Boston was in town. That was a man without a position suffering from broken ribs and a dose of doubt hanging over his future with the team. Now, he?s a star aiming to join an elite list.

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