Or is he a potential No. 3 hitter with the 30-homer power he put on display in ‘11 when he finished second for the AL MVP?
Then there have been years when he has had low on-base percentages (.336 OBP in 2008, .313 in 74 games last year and .314 in first 41 games this year), reflecting that he might not even be an ideal top-of-the-lineup hitter.
One reason nobody knows who he is is that he has missed so much time with injuries since the beginning of 2010.
Something that is clear-cut: Since his remarkable 2011 season, Ellsbury hasn’t been the same hitter. He has batted just .263 with five homers and 39 RBIs over 115 games since then (entering Friday’s contest in Minnesota).
“I feel great,” Ellsbury insisted recently. “I have a good approach. I’m putting the ball in play. Just stick with the plan.”
Another slow start
In his first 41 games this year entering Friday, Ellsbury batted .249 with a lackluster .314 on-base percentage and just one homer, 13 RBIs and seven doubles, putting him on pace to finish with four homers, 51 RBIs and 28 doubles.
That said, he was leading the AL in triples (4) and stolen bases (12).
Will his power return? Well, Ellsbury is correct about how his home run swing developed as the 2011 season progressed. He had just four homers on May 19, 2011. Only 11 of his 32 homers that year came before the All-Star Break.
“I’ve just got to hit the same balls,” Ellsbury said. “Instead of liners maybe (the pitchers) miss in a little bit and I get under it.”
Whether the power numbers return or not Ellsbury needs to do much more to prove his worth than just stay healthy. Especially with the way he has looked at the plate recently. And with some big holes in the lineup, the Red Sox desperately need his production.