Is Ellsbury the new Pierre?

June, 30, 2009
6/30/09
4:22
AM ET
In the second edition of "Clone Wars," Troy Patterson looks at Juan Pierre and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Ellsbury
Pierre
The beginning and the end:
    Jacoby Ellsbury had a huge 33 games in a 2007 call up and even made a great showing in the 2007 playoffs, but has yet to match those numbers since. He has been given many comparisons to other players, including Fred Lynn, Johnny Damon and Ichiro Suzuki. So far though he has fallen short in different ways, like batting eye or power. This leaves him in a dangerous position and looking dangerously more like Juan Pierre.

    --snip--

    So being compared to Pierre doesn't make Ellsbury a bad fantasy option, but it certainly won't help him with the Red Sox. They are almost the same player, with a slight boost in SLG (about 30 points) for Ellsbury. Pierre's value will continue to fluctuate with his playing time, and his situation in Los Angeles, where he is behind both Ramirez and Andre Ethier, doesn't look good for now. Ellsbury has a firm grip on a starting gig, and is on pace for 60 steals this year, and should provide solid fantasy value going forward. If he could ever gain a few points in his walk rate he could head back to the top of the order and be an elite lead off man, but for now he's relegated to Pierre comparisons.

It's true that Ellsbury's been disappointing, and it's not apparent that he'll ever be not disappointing. Last season he batted .280/.336/.394; this year it's .297/.345/.388. Ellsbury's 25 going on 26; when Fred Lynn was 25, he'd won an MVP Award and been an All-Star three times. When Ichiro was 25 ... well, he was still starring in Japan, so it's hard to make a comparison. Johnny Damon took some time to develop, but when he was 25 he batted .307/.397/.477.

So, yeah: Ellsbury's behind those guys.

Juan Pierre, though? Ellsbury's playing in the tougher league, and those extra 30 points of slugging percentage (career-wise) do count. Plus, Ellsbury's a better basestealer, and by most accounts a better fielder. Even leaving aside the small matter of the large difference in their salaries -- $10 million for Pierre, $0.5 million for Ellsbury -- it's exceptionally easy to understand that Ellsbury is right now better than Pierre, and still has a pretty solid chance of being a much better player than Pierre.

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