When it comes to young, speedy centerfielders, Jacoby Ellsbury is someone who comes up with great frequency. He plays in a large media market, in front of ravenous fans and for a media that salivates over anything Boston. After struggling in the postseason last year, Ellsbury has recovered to find success batting down in the Red Sox' batting order.
Interestingly, manager Terry Francona now has J.D. Drew leading off, while the speed merchant Ellsbury hits comfortably in the six hole most nights. If the Astros were to do this, Cecil Cooper would have to bat Lance Berkman first. Since Boston has many high OBP guys, they have the luxury to bat one of them first. The Astros have Lance as their great OBP guy, and that's about it. As such, Cooper has the more traditional table setter in Michael Bourn lead things off, and after an extremely poor showing in 2008, Bourn too has rebounded to play well in 2009.
Type Jacoby Ellsbury Baseball into Google and you find 377,000 results.
Type Michael Bourn Baseball into Google and you find 212,00 results.
I was actually surprised that it was that close. Off the field, Ellsbury dates Penthouse models. Off the field, Bourn...I don't really know what he does. Play XBox probably.
On the field, here is how the two compare this season:
Eerie isn't it? Ellsbury outslugs Bourn to make things even closer, but only by four points (.399 vs. .395)! In terms of runs created based on their wOBA, Bourn eeks out on top so far in 2009 by half a run. The similarties are so striking, but playing in different leagues and coming from different backgrounds don't make them an easy comparison.
Does defense break this virtual tie? Advantage to Bourn, though neither has a positive number in their UZR/150 column. It almost feels hollow to give Bourn the nod when neither has been all that great defensively in 2009. Wait! Jacoby has stolen thirty five bases this season. He stole home, and we heard about it, and heard about it...In total though, using FanGraphs' speed score, Bourn not only tops Ellsbury, but is peerless in all of baseball.
The season may only be half over, but Bourn has been better than Ellsbury in 2009. Good on ya, Michael.