His average is still hovering at .200, and he’s still batting ninth (with his speed, the Oregon born Navajo is considered one of the fastest player in the game and a natural lead-off man), but center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury leads the Boston Red Sox in homeruns thus far (he’s got 4) and is starting to show some of the talent that made him one of the most exciting players in the league before a rib injury ended his 2010 season.
Ellsbury smacked a solo homerun in a Monday night 9-1 win against the Toronto Blue Jays. The night before, he launched a 3-run shot in the second inning in a 8-1 drubbing of those same Blue Jays. The Sox needed wins, and they got three of them in this sweep of division rival Toronto.
As Alex Speier reports for WEEI Sportsradio Network’s website, this isn’t the first time Ellsbury went from his customary leadoff spot to batting last in the order. On May 31 back in 2009, Ellsbury was placed ninth in the lineup. Last season was supposed to be the breakout season for the 27-year old. Instead, he his rib injuries tanked his season. And then during the off season, the Red Sox went out and landed a very, very big fish.
The Red Sox’s big off-season acquisition, phenom Carl Crawford, can claim that it’s his customary leadoff spot. Crawford is an indisputably talented young man who already had a dazzling career for the Tampa Bay Rays. The only trouble is, Crawford is having a dismal start to the season, batting well south of the Mendoza line at .133 with no home runs and only two RBIs (certainly a part of the reason the team was 2-10 just a few days ago), yet you don’t spend $142 million on a leadoff hitter to keep him batting sixth, seventh, or, gulp, ninth. And Crawford is the real deal, and, much like Ellsbury is staring to do, will bounce back.
Yet it’s an interesting conundrum the Red Sox have as they fight to get back to their winning ways, two viable leadoff hitters struggling, one of whom (Ellsbury) appears to be slugging his way out, while Crawford continues to struggle.
Whatever happens, Ellsbury retains both his ability and his confidence, and should both he and Crawford start swinging the bats the way they have in the past during the same game, the story about the ruined Red Sox 2011 season will be another wildly premature baseball obituary, as just about all forecasts of doom are when they’re written about a 162-game season in April.