2008 Preview: Ellsbury or Crisp?


Both Theo Epstein and Terry Francona spoke this week about Coco Crisp being the “incumbent” centerfielder and the starter for the 2008 season. This despite an unspoken assumption by everyone that the job belongs to one Jacoby Ellsbury.

Some have speculated that this is just a ploy to try and build up trade value for Crisp by showing that the Sox still have faith in him as a player. I find that to be certainly possible. But it’s not just the management that thinks Crisp could actually be the better option for this year (though Patrick Sullivan admits that it’s close).

Here’s what the statheads have to say:

		Crisp		Ellsbury
Marcel:		.275/.332/.405	.308/.365/.473
PECOTA:		.278/.338/.407	.287/.347/.396
Bill James:	.276/.335/.400	.320/.374/.436
CHONE:		.278/.338/.421	.299/.353/.418
ZiPS: 		.271/.333/.410	.297/.349/.392

It’s pretty clear that Ellsbury will likely be the better offensive player this season, while Crisp will edge him with the leather, at least for now. One other thing that should be pointed out: these projections are just weighted means in most cases; they don’t reflect that Ellsbury has a 33% PECOTA breakout rate, compared to just 17% for Crisp. That kind of quantifies what we all feel instinctively, that Ellsbury has way more “upside” at this stage in his career.

The last consideration is the impact who starts will have on the way the lineup looks. When Crisp plays, he will likely bat 7th, 8th or 9th. That means batting high OBP men Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis 1-2. On the other hand, Ellsbury will likely be utilized in the leadoff role, bumping Pedroia to #2, and freeing up Youkilis to bat 5th or 6th. I like the second option; imagine opposing pitchers having to face down Big Papi with Ellsbury dancing off first base. And he’ll be able to score from second on any base hit.

In some ways, I’d say this argument is an academic point, because regardless of who is the starter on Opening Day, Ellsbury will get his at-bats and he is the one who will be patrolling centerfield by October. My feeling is that they haven’t unloaded Crisp because they simply haven’t gotten a trade proposal they like. As soon as they do, he’s gone baby, gone.

Alright, let the arguments (discussion) begin.

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3 Responses to 2008 Preview: Ellsbury or Crisp?

  1. Pat says:

    I, like so many others, think Crisp is destined to be traded before the season begins. I also have a feeling that as soon as he is out of Boston, he will be good at the plate again.

    I have recently convinced myself that Ellsbury could be as good as Bill James thinks he is. I’d like to get him playing everyday, and getting settled as our center, and possible lead off hitter of the future.

    Arms would be good to get, trading Coco. I also really like the idea of getting prospects for him. We already have a lot of depth, it would be nice to stock up on the farm to put ourselves in a good position later on. We’ll have to wait and see.

  2. cassy says:

    trade coco. ELLSBURY FOR LIFE!!

  3. SC Sox Fan says:

    Jake has talent. He has natural, God-given talent to play baseball. I played baseball til I was 40, and in those years I’ve only seen maybe 5 kids with that kind of natural talent to play this game. He’s gonna have the soph slump this year because how the heck can he improve on September and October 2007?

    He’s gonna hit 300 and you are gonna hear he’s not as good as he was ‘last year.’ My gosh, he hit .350, safely in 27 of the last 40 games he was in, with clutch RBI’s right and left. It’s not humanly possible to maintain that level of performance. Instead he’ll hit 300 and safely in 1 of every 2 games and folk’s will somehow think he’s not superman anymore.

    Theo better not ever think of trading this kid because if he keeps his head on straight, he’s the next Yaz – yeah, I’m that hight on him. You just do not see that sweet ez swing, the speed and the whole package that often. Compare the kid to Damon – you see it right away.

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