MLB: Jacoby Ellsbury
The secret is officially out on Jacoby Ellsbury.
Anyone who follows baseball – and any high-school sports – in Oregon already knew that the speedy outfielder was destined for greatness.
But Ellsbury’s star has risen so much that he’s no longer simply one of the best Oregonians playing Major League Baseball today; he’s one of the best players, period.
Ellsbury was a standout athlete growing up in Madras, Oregon. He played Little League ball on teams usually comprised of kids up to three years older than him but that didn’t stop him from being the best player.
In high school, Ellsbury did it all. He batted .681 and stole 82 bases as a senior in baseball; he averaged 15.6 points and 3.4 blocks in basketball; and he intercepted 12 passes and returned five kickoffs for touchdowns in his football career.
The Tampa Bay Rays drafted Ellsbury in 2002 but he didn’t sign, instead choosing to attend Oregon State University for three years.
The Boston Red Sox drafted him 23rd overall in 2005 and the rest is history.
He emerged from the minors in mid-2007 and made immediate waves on a Red Sox team that won the World Series that season.
As the Oregon high-school state record holder with seven steals in one game, it was no surprise that Ellsbury won Major League Baseball fans over with his tremendous speed (and defense).
He famously scored from second base on a wild pitch in a July 2007 game.
He wiped 50 bases in his first full season, 2008, and an amazing 70 bags in 2009.
2010 was a rough year for Ellsbury, who missed much of the season with a rib injury. But his redemption – and then some – came this past season.
In 2011, Ellsbury’s power caught up with his speed. He batted .321 with 32 homers, 212 hits, 105 RBI, 119 runs and 39 steals. He won the 2011 American League Comeback Player of the Year award and just may wind up with another huge individual honor once the votes are tallied for the MVP.
Ellsbury is the pride of Oregon and also the pride of the Navajo, as he’s the first Native American of Navajo descent to play in the majors.
After his epic 2011 season, who knows what his encore will be?