Superstardom. Jacoby Ellsbury had always been an elite steals maven, once swiping 50 bags and 70 bags in back-to-back seasons. He’d regularly hit around .300, and has a .299/.354/.450 batting line. He was roughly league average with the bat, though from 2008-2009, this before accumulating 9.4 wins for the Red Sox and clocking in at 50 percent above league average last year. What happened in the sandwiched 2010 season? Oh yeah, Ellsbury played in only 18 games.
He was the perennial headache for the BoSox in 2010. He was first injured when he collided with Adrian Beltre on April 11, and the resulting hairline fractures to his ribs had him out for about a month. He returned for six days. His next major-league stint was four days, and the rest of the time, he occupied a spot on the Red Sox 15-day disabled list. And what of the 2010 Red Sox? They missed the playoffs by six games and finished third in the AL East.
The similarities, of course, are stark. This year’s Ellsbury injury, sure to be a nagging one, has him out six-to-eight weeks as a baseline, but my estimation has the brittle star out longer, perhaps until July or later. We know one thing: he’s not a quick healer. But more on those 2010/2012 Red Sox similarities. Are we seeing Boston’s possible crumbling in mid-April?
|2010||AL East victory||9/13 playoffs
|2012||AL East runner-up||2/8 playoffs
Expectations were clearly higher for the 2010 boys from Beantown. They signed John Lackey to a five-year deal worth upwards of $80 million, in retrospect a terrible mistake but at the time a heralded signing. Marco Scutaro, Mike Cameron, and Jeremy Hermida were also seen as worthy pickups by Theo Epstein.
|C||V. Martinez||J. Salta…|
|1B||K. Youkilis||A. Gonzalez|
|2B||D. Pedroia||D. Pedroia|
|3B||A. Beltre||K. Youkilis|
|SS||M. Scutaro||M. Aviles|
|OF||J. Drew||C. Ross|
|OF||D. McDonald||D. McDonald|
|OF||B. Hall||R. Sweeney|
|DH||D. Ortiz||D. Ortiz|
The 2010 lineup was more potent – David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis were two years younger, Victor Martinez was healthy and mashing, Adrian Beltre hit with authority, and eight of nine starters had an OPS+ above 100, or league average.
The threesome of Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre, and Marco Scutaro (all circa 2010) is clearly more desirable than Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Adrian Gonzalez, and Mike Aviles, at least by my estimation. The former threesome’s combined previous-year WAR was 11.5. The current Sox infield combo accumulated 8.6 wins last year, and much of that came from Adrian Gonzalez’s career year.
To further the divide between the two teams, the 2010 Red Sox got excellent starting pitching, something that can’t reasonably be expected from the current rotation that contains the likes of Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard, both projects to say the least. Four starters were above league average for the Sox in 2010, including John Lackey, while Jon Lester and perhaps Josh Beckett are seen as the only halfway-decent bets in the current year.
Suffice it to say that the Sox are in trouble. If the Ellsbury injury, coupled with strong divisional rivals, was enough to take down the 2010 Red Sox, it doesn’t take much deduction to see a similar possibility in 2012.