Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox is off to a career year, increasing both his ability to get on base and his power over his career averages. Some of his statistics indicate he is stronger. The possibility exists that his year of rehabilitating his broken ribs turned him into a better hitter. The first thing to notice is that he's smacking more balls for line drives:
He's very good at lining the low outside pitch, but he's also doing better at smacking offerings in the strike zone as well.
The following table shows how his balls in play distribution changed this season.
|In Play Type||2008-2010||2011|
With Ellsbury's wOBA over .700 when he hits a line drive, increasing his LD% helps his averages a great deal. Line drives are not the only place he's getting better, however:
A higher proportion of his fly balls are falling for hits, not just home runs, despite him not hitting the ball as far on average. One explanation may be that many of his flies are high line drives. I thought that it might be Jacoby hitting the Green Monster more often, but his fly balls are producing a higher wOBA on the road. He's hitting the ball solid and at a good angle, so he gets pure line drives that fall for hits, or long, low flies that hit the gaps.