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.
“Lately I’ve just been able to work counts,” Bradley said.
“I’ve seen a ton of pitches and that’s going to help. I’ve actually been seeing lefties of late pretty well — and just being able to put together some good ABs.”
Like Bradley, Ellsbury has struggled some against lefties, too. He entered Friday batting .249 with a .333 OBP against them while hitting .323 with a .371 OBP against righties.
Bradley said: “When I was going through a little slump or whatever, I was facing a lot more lefties than usual then. But I’m starting to see both pitchers really well. Just tinkering around a little bit.”
Bradley’s numbers dropped as last year progressed, too.
The center fielder batted .315 with a sensational .430 on-base percentage in 2012 during his first full professional season but hit just .229 during the final full month.
Following his struggles last August, Bradley said he felt fatigued and worn down mentally during the final month.
He insists that isn’t the case this year.
“I feel better than ever,” Bradley said.
“I feel as strong as I was at the beginning of the season. And I think it’s just the aspects of just knowing your body and knowing what to expect (this year). I think just learning what you have to go through put me in a good position for this year. I’m not wearing down. I’m doing the things I need to do to keep my body feeling the way it is. I have no complaints at all. No struggling. Nothing dealing with injuries.”
For what it’s worth, Bradley’s overall numbers in Triple-A this year have been better than Ellsbury’s in the majors.
Bradley entered the weekend batting .274 with a .377 OBP, .490 slugging percentage, .868 OPS, nine homers, 29 RBIs, 23 doubles, three triples, 48 runs and six steals in 259 at-bats.
That’s compared to Ellsbury’s .296 average, .357 OBP, .426 slugging percentage, .783 OPS, seven homers, 45 RBIs, 26 doubles, eight triples, 73 runs and 44 steals in 486 at-bats.
Comparing Triple-A and the majors and is like comparing apples and oranges though.
Ellsbury will be missed ... well, from today’s vantage point he will be.
Follow Eagle-Tribune baseball reporter Christopher Smitty on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB.