By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Was Jacoby Ellsbury a bad centerfielder?

I can believe that Jacoby Ellsbury is (was) not as good a centerfielder as he seems — there are some players who make easy plays look spectacular, and he could be one of them.

What I can’t believe is that he’s way below average.

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  1. mike_b1

    Because you (and many others) get caught up in all the diving catches, when guys like Mike Cameron get better jumps and take better routes to the ball and therefore catch them standing up. Less flashy, but more effective. Plus, Ellsbury plays a deep, deep CF, probably because he does not go back well on balls (not dirty), and thus bloopers fall in safely (think Game 3 of the ALDS).

    And that’s the beauty of being able to quantify something. Your eyes may deceive you, but the data do not.

  2. arnold

    If you’re an outfielder who go to his max in chasing a ball rather than holding back, you are going to have poorer numbers.

    Don’t dive for the ball and look good in the stats.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @arnold: You’re talking about fielding percentage. This is something different that actually measures range. I don’t completely buy it, though. Ellsbury may be overrated defensively, but he’s not terrible.

  3. Steve Stein

    That’s what the data says. And if you focus on his routes, you can see it (kinda). Looking at his Fielding Runs, he had a much better 2008 than 2009. (Don’t know the 2008 UZR.) He played all fields in 2008 and performed well above average, so his career LF number is very good, even though he’s sunk below average for his career in center.

    What you (and I) remember is our first impression, which was accurate at the time. My guess is his unbelievable speed was able to compensate for a lot of bad habits, and he’s lost a step. I also guess that Jacoby can learn.

  4. Steve Stein

    Here is Ellsbury’s UZR record. He DID have a lot better 2008 than 2009 – above average at all OF positions. Especially in LF (but Fenway’s LF is such an anomaly I’m not sure UZR isn’t skewed).

  5. Harrybosch

    Though I agree with the move, my lyin’ eyes tell me he’s very good and sometimes spectacular.

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