Comparison for consideration
I was asked a question in a recent chat that got me to
thinking about the future value of a certain player. To frame the answer, here
are the season-to-date stats (thru and including Sunday night’s games) of three
speedy American League outfielders, including the player in question:
OF G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS P/PA SB% G/A AGE
A 63 218 50 63 6 3 5 23 28 30 33 3 .289 .373 .413 .786 3.68 91.7 1.15 25
B 65 268 43 71 7 4 4 33 18 37 19 4 .265 .309 .366 .675 3.39 82.6 1.35 27
C 69 285 47 84 11 3 3 18 26 29 29 2 .295 .358 .386 .744 3.66 93.5 1.92 34
(G/A = ground outs to air outs ratio. Age as of July 1, 2008.)
see, Player A has the highest OBP and SLG, is a prolific and high-percentage
base-stealer, and is still the youngest of the three. He leads the trio in runs
scored, walks and steals despite having the fewest at-bats, the product of some
early-season job-sharing plus a couple of short-term injury absences. Plus, he
has the best batting eye and hits the most fly balls, perhaps indicating the
best possibility of a future power spike as he ages into his prime, and plays
for the best overall offensive team of the three. Naturally he’s the
first-round pick of the bunch, right?
sure you’ve guessed by now that Player A is Jacoby Ellsbury, and you can
probably tell that Player B is Carl Crawford and Player C is Ichiro Suzuki. Pretty heady company for a guy who hasn’t yet played 100 career games!
So, what did you pay for their production? Crawford
went in the first round in most drafts this season, usually between 10th and
12th overall, while Ichiro rarely lasted the second round and typically went
off the board between the 20th and 25th picks, with drafters opting for
Crawford’s power upside over Ichiro’s higher average and runs. Ellsbury went
exactly 136th in both my NFBC and 411 listener league drafts.
what have owners gotten for their money? NFBC ranks Ellsbury as the third most
valuable player in 5×5 mixed leagues so far this season, with Ichiro ranking 14th and
Crawford 42nd. ESPN has Ellsbury sixth, Ichiro a notch higher than NFBC at 13th, and
let’s be fair about the two veterans… Ichiro is a career .331 hitter who has
never totaled fewer than 100 runs or 31 steals in a season, while Crawford is a
career .294 hitter who has averaged 12 homers and 54 steals over the past five
seasons. These guys are legit stars and worthy of high picks in any format.
Ellsbury, on the other hand, has played in fewer than 100 career games, still has some competition for playing time (although that is gradually
being rendered moot by his awesome performance this year) and has to prove he can maintain his health and production over a full season.
for now, Ellsbury’s present value clearly ranks among the elite, but his future
value is still somewhat unknown. Still, if he keeps up at his current pace,
he’s a borderline first round pick and a centerpiece offensive player with room
for more offensive growth. Congrats to those who have him cheap in keeper
leagues, the mancrush is well-founded!