9. If … Jacoby Ellsbury Becomes Consistent
When Jacoby Ellsbury is consistent, the Yankees’ offense is an unstoppable force and the team is a winning machine.
From Opening Day to May 3, the centerfielder slashed a mere .247/.293/.366 with five stolen bases and an OPS of .659.
As Ellsbury stumbled out of the gate, the Yankees did as well, kicking their campaign off with an 8-16 record, good enough for last place in the AL East with already a narrow 12 percent chance to reach the postseason.
On May 4, Ellsbury commenced a surge in which he slashed .337/.407/.526 with an OPS of .934, 17 runs scored, and a .380 BAbip (batting average on balls in play) leading up to play on June 8 (28 games).
Thanks to the improvement of output, New York was able to go on a 17-11 run and overcame the .500 two games later to pull out of the gutter in the division. For those who might not know how good 17-11 is, that’s a 98-win proportion.
Following this brief hot streak, the 33-year old fell into a 43 game funk in which he went 38-for-164 (.232) while maintaining an OPS of .574. With that, New York was never truly able to heave themselves over the .500 plateau and sold at the trade deadline with a record of 52-52.
From Aug. 1 to Sept. 10, Ellsbury slashed .288/.351/.447 with nine doubles, four home runs, and 20 RBI in 34 games. With some help from rookie phenom, Gary Sanchez, the rebuilding Yankees went on a 23-11 stretch to pull within one game of a postseason spot.
Unfortunately, the wheels fell off yet again (Ellsbury would bat .209 in the 19 remaining games) and New York would go 7-12 to conclude the year on the outside of the playoff bracket for the third time in four years.
Overall, in games the Yankees emerged as victors (77 times with Ellsbury making an appearance), Jacoby slashed .343/.411/.534 and totaled 151 bases. In 71 losses with him making an appearance, his slash line deteriorates to .179/.239/.205 with a mere 55 total bases.
At the end of the day, Jacoby Ellsbury applies a dimension to the Yankees’ offense that turns it into a vulnerable unit when it’s not present.
The great unknown is specifically defined as whether a year can be full of steadiness. If that steadiness finds its way onto the 2017 club, New York will wheel in nothing but benefits.