On the day of the New York Yankees’ one-game playoff, it’s time for fans to realize that whether or not he starts, Jacoby Ellsbury has earned a spot in the lineup.All season long, fans have been roasting Jacoby Ellsbury for being…well, Jacoby Ellsbury. And they’ve been praising Aaron Hicks for being … well, not Aaron Hicks.
Both Hicks and Ellsbury have something in common. They are both center fielders for the New York Yankees and they both are fighting tooth and nail for that starting position for this one-game playoff.
Hicks has been solid this season on both sides of the ball, while Ellsbury has just picked up the pace for the second half of the season. Either one of them would be a strong pick to run center field in this huge Wild Card game.
But when all is said and done, Jacoby Ellsbury deserves that starting spot in centerfield when 8:09 rolls around this evening.
Before everyone starts their whining and complaining, let’s discuss this a little further. Because when it comes time for the Yankees to take the field, they need Ellsbury out there.
While Hicks has been more exciting and shown more emotion than Ellsbury this season, you can’t discredit what he has done when he’s been on the field.
For the month of September, Ellsbury has been red-hot, batting .337/.436/.477. Even in Hicks’ best month this season, he’s posted a .299/.423/.506 line. While Ellsbury doesn’t have any home runs in this span, he still is getting on base quite frequently.
And while he’s getting on base, he’s actually using his speed, which he hasn’t done much previously. Ellsbury finished this regular season with 22 stolen bases, pairing perfectly with Brett Gardner in the baserunning department.
So you’ve got a hotter hitter coming in, as well as a guy who produces runs with his legs. He may not shine in the power department, but in these games, it’s important to get runs in any way that you can.
Plus, Ellsbury does have experience in the postseason with his days in Boston. He’s a lifetime .299 hitter in the playoffs while Hicks has yet to compete in postseason play. Would you rather have an inexperienced postseason player starting the do-or-die game or the reliable veteran?
Perhaps people are banking on Hicks primarily for his defense. He did rob two grand slams so far this season. However, Ellsbury has been pretty solid on defense as well, especially before his concussion.
Need more convincing? How about this stat: Jacoby Ellsbury is a lifetime .294 hitter against Ervin Santana, tonight’s starter. Aaron Hicks is hitless against him in his career.
But, here’s the kicker, ladies and gentlemen. Just because Jacoby Ellsbury starts the game doesn’t mean Aaron Hicks can’t come in to play. And Hicks excels when he is brought in late in the game as a pinch-hitter.
Coming into games as a sub this season, Hicks is batting .294 with two home runs. Ellsbury is batting a .214 as a sub this season.
It’s common sense, everyone. While Hicks is solid on defense, so is Ellsbury. And offensively, there is no competition.
Put the contract and the money game out of your mind. No, Ellsbury should not be starting because the Yankees are paying him an exuberant amount of money. Ellsbury should be starting because he deserves it.
He has taken every challenge that has been thrown his way and overcame obstacles. He blocked the hatred and naysayers to prove everyone wrong. He took the negative and let it fuel him by working hard to win his spot back.
Just like this season’s team.
If the Yankees don’t start Ellsbury, it will be a huge mistake. One game, one chance to move on. Now is not the time to mess around.
So don’t complain. Don’t cry or hate on Ellsbury. He truly deserves the opportunity to shine in the Wild Card game because of his stats, not the money.