26 February 2011
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Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP John Lackey, SP Josh Beckett, SP
Clay Buchholz, SP Jon Lester, SP Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
David Ortiz, DH
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2010 was a lost season for Ellsbury. Thanks to Adrian Beltre, and my hopes for 100 stolen bases were crushed... just like Jacoby's ribcage.
Ellsbury played in 18 games last year, managed 15 hits and stole 7 bases. With healthy ribs, some friendly competition from the newly acquired Carl Crawford and plenty to prove... I'm hoping for big things from Ellsbury this season.
The assumption is that he'll lead off, but Crawford and Marco Scutaro can handle that job as well, so Tito may drop Ells to the 9 hole if he struggles at any point during the season. I'm guessing he stays up top, and with all kinds of fire power behind him... 100 runs scored might end up being a low ball suggestion.
I'd love to see 100 SBs and tons of first-to-third action, but what i realy want to see from Jacoby plate discipline and a solid OBP. Bill James is predicting a repeat of 2009 with a .300 average and a .355 OBP. I'd like to see him push closer to .400, but when I looked at last year's OBP leaders, I noticed that list is full of big guns like A. Puljos, M. Cabrera, A. Gonzalez, J. Votto Aand Joe Mauer. I didn' find a leadoff man until I hit Ichiro at .359...
This tells me two things: 1) Maybe .350 is just fine for a leadoff man. 2) Most of the guys above hit in lineups far less formidable than our 2011 Murder's Row. I didn't pull the stats, but my guess is opposing pitchers avoided those guys as much as possible, and went after the weaker hitters.
Ellsbury won't have that luxury. Pitchers won't want him on base, but they'll have to pick their poison all game with this lineup, and Jacoby isn't quite as deadly as Youk or Gonzilla.
Bottom Line: I still see 100+ runs and 60+ steals... but I'll be hoping for more!
Rob's Prediction: 607 AB, .292 BA, .760 OPS, 27 2B, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 110 R
*Special Category: 64 stolen bases
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