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August 18, 2013

Today's vantage point: Ellsbury will be missed greatly

With Scott Boras as his agent, Jacoby Ellsbury appears ready to test the free agent market and leave Boston after this season.

In May, yours truly, wrote a column titled, “Who is the real Jacoby?”

I asked if the Red Sox center fielder is the prototypical leadoff hitter like he was in 2009 when he legged out 10 triples, stole 70 bases and hit .301 with a decent .355 on-base percentage but had only eight homers?

Or if he is a potential No. 3 hitter with the 30-homer power he put on display in ‘11, when he finished second for the AL MVP?

I also pointed out there have been years when Ellsbury has had low on-base percentages (.336 OBP in 2008, .313 in 74 games last year).

At the time, Ellsbury was in an offensive funk. He resembled a No. 9 hitter.

Since May though, Ellsbury has made one thing clear: no matter who he is, he’s great to have in the lineup.

He has been a dangerous leadoff hitter who has fueled the offense. He batted .360 with a .414 on-base percentage in June and .312 with a .360 OBP in July.

He was batting .274 with a .333 OBP in August entering Friday.

While Ellsbury has been on fire — except for his mediocre August — heir apparent Jackie Bradley Jr. has shown he might not be able to adequately replace Ellsbury right away or possibly ever.

After hitting .419 in 11 games in May for Pawtucket, Bradley has cooled down. Through 64 games he was hitting .274 with a .377 OBP.

Bradley, who struggled in his brief stints with Boston this year (.155 average in 58 at-bats), must improve against left-handed pitching. All nine of his homers have come against righties.

He entered Friday batting .232 with a .351 OBP from the left side compared to .294 with a .390 OBP from the right side.

On a positive note, his .351 OBP against lefties is fairly good although the .232 average isn’t.

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