.312 AVG, 23 HR, 82 RBI, .889 OPS and 61 Extra Base Hits
If I would have read you this stat line prior to the 2011 MLB season and told you to guess which outfielder those numbers belonged to through the month of August, the myriad of elite, super stars you would have rattled off would’ve been endless. If the name Jacoby Ellsbury was even one of the first 25 names you uttered, I would have told you that you were crazy and suggested an immediate, comprehensive psychiatric evaluation simply out of concern for your mental well-being.
But the fact of the matter is, he has been as good, if not better, than any other outfielder in the entire league. While cases could be made for a handful of other players, there’s certainly not another player providing the type of production for the money the Red Sox are paying him this season.
Ellsbury is currently making $2.4 million this year. Now I’m sure most of us would take that type of money to play baseball, but when you compare his salary to those of the highest paid players at his position, it appears as though the Red Sox are making out like bandits.
A list of the top 25 highest paid MLB outfielders ranges from Vernon Wells of the Anaheim Angels at the top, pulling in $26.2 million, to a surprising Cleveland Indians outfielder, Kosuke Fukudome, who is making $14.5 million. In all five of those aforementioned, critical offensive categories there is only one player who has a single statistic higher than Jacoby Ellsbury right now.
Coming into this week Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals has an OPS of .949. His salary for 2011– just a shade over $16.3 million. That’s a lot of cash to dish out for an extra 60 points in OPS. Jacoby beats out every other single player on that list in every single one of those five offensive categories. Did I mention that he also has 36 stolen bases this season? That’s only one less than the American League leader. So there’s that as well.
Delving even further into the comparisons, the Red Sox have two players on that list – Carl Crawford and J.D. Drew. Crawford is the ninth highest paid outfield and Drew is the eleventh. Boston will pay them a combined salary of $28.9 million this season. If you were to cram the two players into one body and add both of their stats together in those five categories here is what “J.D. Crawfords” line would read — .239 AVG, 13 HR, 68 RBI, .648 OPS with 44 XBH.
Remember our old pal Jason Bay? Well, after ditching Boston and running off to the New York Mets to become the sixth highest paid outfielder, he has been absolutely miserable. While making over $18 million this year, Jacoby has an average that is 79 points higher. He has hit 14 more home runs, driven in 39 more runs, has 40 more extra base hits and has an OPS 230 points higher.
Therefore consider this my official declaration to lead the campaign for Jacoby Ellsbury as the American League MVP. If we’re truly talking “most valuable” then salary should be calculated into the equation; especially given the state of the current economy.
Yankee fans can scream Curtis Granderson’s stats at the top of their lungs until they’re blue in the face, but my response to their clamorous pleas will be a simple one. The “Grandyman” might be having a great season but he is also making $8.25 million. Since he is getting paid about four times as much as Ellsbury, his production should be four times greater than Jaboby’s. Since that is definitely not the case, my vote goes to Jacoby Ellsbury and his $2.4 million salary as the most truly “valuable” player in every sense of the word.