jacoby ellsbury Yankees

Are Jacoby Ellsbury’s Days in Pinstripes Numbered?

Chris Lewis
Chris Lewis

A few days ago, Jacoby Ellsbury suffered another injury setback. He suffered a hip injury while rehabbing a right oblique strain injury.

From Bryan Hoch’s twitter a few days ago:

After signing a 7 year, 153 million dollar contract after the 2013 season, Ellsbury’s first season with the Yankees was decent but was then followed by three mediocre ones. They say that hindsight is 20-20, but this contract has gone from bad to downright awful.

Far removed from his incredible 2011 season where he finished 2nd in AL MVP voting to Justin Verlander, Ellsbury has put up a lower fWAR in four seasons with the Yankees than he did in 2011. With Boston in 2012, Ellsbury missed 88 games with a right shoulder injury. To start 2018, it was a right oblique, and now a hip injury on top of that. As a Yankee, Ellsbury has now missed 135 games and counting.

Some Injuries Never Heal Right

Research from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) determined that injuries to the hips and core muscles generally result in “limitations in throwing velocity, pitch control, and bat swing speed.” The study also showed that players returning from core and hip injuries strike out slightly more and hit fewer home runs. Ellsbury is recovering from injuries to both his core and his hip. Not very promising news.

Another NIMH study of pitchers noted that “there is a high rate of reinjury in these pitchers more often for other injuries.” Although Ellsbury isn’t a pitcher, many of the same mechanics apply to both pitching and hitting.

Can Ellsbury Get Worse?

With the injuries to both Aaron Hicks and Billy McKinney, the Yankees were hopeful that Ellsbury would be back in the lineup again soon. Hopeful doesn’t feel like the right word. After all, he went 1 for 14 with 2 walks in Spring Training.

So, if and when Ellsbury returns to action, it’s conceivable that he will be even worse than he’s been over the past 3 seasons. His “best” season since 2014 was 2016 when he finished 53rd among AL position players in fWAR; just ahead of Danny Valencia and Michael Saunders, who both made less than $3.2 million each for their efforts.

Certainly there are similar depth signings to Valencia and Saunders that the Yankees could pursue. I mean, can we really consider Ellsbury outfield depth if he’s never actually playing games? Or worse, taking up a spot in the batting order while he’s only able to give 50 percent.

So the question has to be asked: At what point do the Yankees finally cut ties with the oft-injured Ellsbury?

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