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Will Jacoby Ellsbury Run Wild in 2009?

Jacoby Ellsbury finished third in the majors with 50 SB last year. Along with his 98 runs scored and his .280 batting average, Ellsbury posted a $21.55 dollar value last year, according to the RotoTimes Player Rater. That was the 32nd-best season by a fantasy hitter last year. The mock drafters are not completely sold on Ellsbury, giving him an ADP of 57 according to the latest update over at Mock Draft Central.

Ellsbury made 129 starts last year, a figure that should go up with Coco Crisp no longer around to siphon off playing time. That should translate into better counting numbers, including steals. As for his average, all five of the projection systems see him besting his .280 of a season ago. Last year, Ellsbury had a .314 BABIP, a reasonable number given his speed, groundball tendencies (51.7%) and line drive rate (20.3%).

Ichiro Suzuki is a similar player to Ellsbury. Here are their fantasy lines from 2008:

IS – .310-6-42-103-43
JE – .280-9-47-98-50

Now, 30 points of average is a big difference but is it worth 29 slots of ADP? Certainly, Ichiro has more of a track record and could realistically post an even higher AVG in 2009. But Ellsbury could see a boost in his numbers thanks to both the expected playing time bump and the normal improvement from a young player. Would a 60-SB, 110-R season from Ellsbury be a surprise?

Ellsbury is not going to be a big threat in either HR or RBI. But with above average production in runs along with one of the best SB totals in the game he should provide great value for fantasy players, especially given his current ADP.