Yankees Jacoby Ellsbury Time to Turn the Page: Fantasy Value in 2017

Jul 31, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (22) looks on while at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jacoby Ellsbury had another underwhelming season for the Yankees in 2016. Could it finally be time for fantasy owners to turn the page of him moving forward?

The Yankees are no strangers to having their fair share of bad contracts and even though many are now off the books, its seems as though Jacoby Ellsbury is just the latest. Fantasy owners probably have a wide-ranging opinion on Ells based on his inconsistent yearly production. But after back to back down seasons, is it finally time for owners to save themselves the headache?

It was widely accepted that his 32 HR/105 RBI season in 2011 was a fluke. But, his speed was always the backbone of his fantasy value. He has a 70 SB season under his belt, and two 50 SB campaigns as well. Even when healthy and on the field, he was a near lock for 30 SB. Yet, over the last two season the power is gone and the speed is fading.

Ellsbury is no stranger to injuries, but was able to play in 148 games last season, the third highest total since 2011. However, the season was a relative dud, .263/9 HR/56 RBI/20 SB/71 R/.703 OPS. A pedestrian line who is usually selected in the middle rounds. While he still is not a terrible MLB player, it just appears as though that as he enters his age 33 season, fantasy owners may be better served looking elsewhere for upside.

In 2015 Ellsbury stole 21 bags in only 111 games. Yet in 2016 over 37 more games, he only attempted 28 SB attempts. Whether it be fatigue or just an attempt to save his legs, he has slowed way on the bases over the last few seasons. The Yankees lack the dynamic offense of years past, but Ellsbury is simply not running at will like he should.

Looking at his batted ball data, 23% LD, 46% GB/31% FB, 51% Med contact, and 27% Hard contact rates are all pretty in line with his career norms. But, the LD rate was down from the last two seasons, and his Oppo rate was down 4%. There is just nothing within his batted ball that leads fantasy owners to believe that he could have a bounce back season in season. 10 HR appears to be his ceiling at this point.

In terms of his AVG, he has not batted over .271 since 2013. His .295 was a tick below AVG, especially with his speed, but he will still struggle to get over the .265 threshold. One positive sign was that he was able a career low 13% K rate, while also posting a career high 9% BB rate. But, what good is that if he is not going to run?

His counting stats were bottomed out last season because the Yankees lacked run producers for most of the season. Gary Sanchez, a healthy Greg Bird, and Matt Holliday should help, but the team can not be relied to be a high-octane offense in 2017. Therefore, his counting stats are capped to around 85 R and 65 RBI.

Jacoby Ellsbury is by no means a bad player, or completely useless, but decline and the pre-existing red flags may by just too much for fantasy owners to look past. There were only 28 players in MLB last season that stole 20+ SB, so he does have that going for him,  but that is the only asset he brings. It is time for fantasy owners to overlook the name value, and look for other options.

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