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Ellsbury (1)

FANTASY BASEBALL – Jacoby Ellsbury Jumps + Updated 2015 OF Rankings


FANTASY BASEBALL: 2015 SP Rankings Debate

Garion Thorne catches Pat Mayo up on the MLB offseason movement and news revealing his 2015 OF Rankings.

2015 RankingsC | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP/RP | SP Busts
Divisional PreviewsAL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL Central | NL West
Player vs. PlayerVotto/Fielder | Blackmon/Dickerson | Young Outfielders

*Recorded December 19th – Rankings have been updated since*

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  1. Mike Trout (LAA)
  2. Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)
  3. Carlos Gomez (MIL)
  4. Jose Bautista (TOR)
  5. Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
  6. Carlos Gonzalez (COL)
  7. Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY)
  8. Justin Upton (SD)
  9. Adam Jones (BAL)
  10. Nelson Cruz (SEA)
  11. Ryan Braun (MIL)
  12. Hunter Pence (SF)
  13. George Springer (HOU)
  14. Michael Brantley (CLE)
  15. Bryce Harper (WSH)
  16. Yasiel Puig (LAD)
  17. Corey Dickerson (COL)
  18. Mark Trumbo (ARI)
  19. Charlie Blackmon (COL)
  20. Alex Gordon (KC)
  21. Brett Gardner (NYY)
  22. Shin-Soo Choo (TEX)
  23. Starling Marte (PIT)
  24. Billy Hamilton (CIN)
  25. Matt Kemp (SD)
  26. Jorge Soler (CHC)
  27. Yoenis Cespedes (DET)
  28. Jayson Werth (WSH)
  29. Alex Rios (KC)
  30. Jason Heyward (STL)
  31. Christian Yelich (MIA)
  32. Denard Span (WSH)
  33. Chris Carter (HOU)
  34. Kole Calhoun (LAA)
  35. Jay Bruce (CIN)
  36. Melky Cabrera (CWS)
  37. Matt Holliday (STL)
  38. Josh Harrison (PIT)
  39. Marcell Ozuna (MIA)
  40. Khris Davis (MIL)
  41. J.D. Martinez (DET)
  42. Brandon Moss (CLE)
  43. Austin Jackson (SEA)
  44. Coco Crisp (OAK)
  45. Marlon Byrd (CIN)
  46. Wil Myers (SD)
  47. Evan Gattis (HOU)
  48. Ben Revere (PHI)
  49. Joc Pederson (LAD)
  50. Leonys Martin (TEX)

Fantasy Fatigue (noun) – The apathy shown toward a player who has consistently, if quietly, produced season after season for fantasy owners. Fantasy Fatigue is generally accompanied by it’s hyperactive cousin FADD (Fantasy Attention Deficit Disorder) where one becomes instantly enamoured with something new, preferably shiny, and generally featured heavily in Baseball Prospectus’ prospect lists.

Okay, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s discuss the almost boring safety of Jacoby Ellsbury. Overall, the Yankee is going right about where he should be going in drafts, sitting at OF8 and going off the board at pick 21. However, outfield depth beyond the top tier is quite interesting in 2015. Aside from Ellsbury and Justin Upton, two of the more established at the position, you have a mix of fallen idols (Ryan Braun), the injury prone (Carlos Gonzalez), and, most prevalent, youth – with George Springer, Starling Marte, and Bryce Harper still finding their place and value in the league. The point is there’s much temptation to stay away from the known floor of an Ellsbury for the seemingly unlimited ceiling of a Springer, something we saw at the FSTA Fantasy Experts Draft in January, where Ellsbury went at pick 36, and discussed at length last week on FST.

The strange part is, for as much projecting as we like to do with prospects, there’s a real argument to be made that Ellsbury has room to improve during his sophomore season in the Bronx. Even working under the assumption that the now 31 year-old is closer to a 30 steal guy than 40, though he’s yet to post a campaign below 39 when getting at least 600 plate appearances, there were still only eleven players to break the 30 steal barrier in 2014 – a number likely not to fluctuate severely. Really, Ellsbury should have more opportunity on the bases, considering both his .328 OBP and .296 BABIP were career-lows for the former Red Sox. Add in a career-best 7.7% walk rate, trending in the right direction since 2012, and a .258 average versus right-handed pitching – nearly 40 points below his lifetime mark, and I’d have Ellsbury closer to a .290/.350 hitter in 2015. Enough to make up for his marginal power numbers which, again, still might have room to grow.

The very trendy storyline heading into last season was Ellsbury’s return to power form in what would become the league’s best home run park according to ESPN Park Factors – and it sort of happened. The lefty knocked out 16 long balls in 2014, nowhere near his 32 in an established outlier 2011, but easily the second highest figure of his career. The fact of the matter is, unlike surface narratives that simply tie a player to a ballpark (see: Pablo Sandoval), Ellsbury’s strength actually lines up perfectly with the famous Yankee Stadium right-field short-porch. Last year Ellsbury hit 14 of his 16 home runs to his pull side, consistent with his career trend of pulling 85.2% of his 81 long flies. However, it’s not just the home run numbers that should improve, but the RBI total as well. Now, Ellsbury isn’t an undisciplined hitter, his 13.1% career strikeout rate is roughly twice that of his walk rate, but the center fielder has never had a season of 100 strikeouts. Still, the veteran becomes a different player with RISP with last year’s 11.8% identical walk and strikeout rates indicating a hitter who seemingly knows how to thrive in the situation. So with 2014 featuring a career-worst .280 BABIP with men on second or third, 2015 should see Ellsbury break 80 RBI – especially with him making the transition to the third spot in the New York order, where he hit in 64.1% of his plate appearances last season.

Again, Jacoby Ellsbury is not your conventional five category player, nor will he ever be. His best case scenario is a poor man’s Andrew McCutchen – a five category contributor, a jack of all trades. But while the promise of 2011 and the pain of 2012 still linger, don’t let that cloud your judgement. Is Ellsbury a George Springer? No. But knowing what Ellsbury is not, might prove more valuable than taking a flier on a player who has yet to prove who he is.

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