Monday, April 21, 2008

Duende Dude

It matters little whether we talk basketball, baseball, football, checkers, or chess...strength up the middle remains a precursor for success. I have no interest in reputation over production. And I do not believe in enshrining unproven players in the pantheon of greatness.

But I do believe not only in Platonic but Aristotlean truth. The simple truth reveals itself day by day, that [[Jacoby Ellsbury]] can compete with the best in the American League for an All-Star outfield berth.

At 24 Ellsbury has the raw athletic tools with an incomplete skill set for greatness. Yet even an embryonic Ellsbury produces. Despite an early season platoon in Boston's outfield, Ellsbury is second in the AL in runs scored (16), second in stolen bases (8), and his .444 on base percentage would be among the league leaders if he had sufficient plate appearances. Even with training wheels technique on the bases, Ellsbury is on pace to steal nearly 70 bases, something unheard of in station-to-station baseball Boston. And he hasn't been caught stealing yet in sixteen major league tries.

He hasn't proven that he can hit left handed pitching, hasn't hit for power yet, and time will tell whether he can handle the hard stuff inside that left handers must to succeed in The Show. What he has proven is the ability to perform under big market bright lights, which many players, young or old cannot.

I'm not claiming that Ellsbury deserves your All-Star vote, yet. But he deserves your attention, an exciting force that alters the Red Sox' stodgy tradition of plodding sluggers. In the parlance of George Frazier, he has not only the talent, but duende.

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