- CF, LF, OF, RF
- September 11, 1983
- 6' 1"
- 185 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 6-30-2007 with BOS
Ellsbury is officially enrolled as a member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes and is the first Native American of Navajo descent to reach the Major Leagues. As of 2008, he was one of only three active non-Hispanic Native American players in Major League Baseball, with the others being Kyle Lohse of the St. Louis Cardinals and Joba Chamberlain of the New York Yankees. Ellsbury is English and German on his paternal side.
Jacoby was born September 11, 1983, in Madras, Oregon, to Jim and Margie Ellsbury, He is the oldest of four children. Growing up playing Little League Baseball he often played on a team with kids up to three years older than him, but was still the fastest, and best player on the team. In high school, Ellsbury lettered in football and baseball for four years and in basketball for three, where he hit .681 and had 82 stolen bases his senior year in baseball, and averaged 15.6 points per game to go along with an average of 3.4 blocks per game in basketball, and finished his football career with 12 interceptions and 5 kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Ellsbury began his professional career on July 14, 2005, with the Lowell Spinners in the short season Single-A New York-Penn League. From the start, he showed that his patience and great speed were an asset when he led off the game by walking on a 3–2 pitch, stealing second, continuing to third on a throwing error and then scoring on a wild pitch. On September 7, he tied a Lowell team record with three stolen bases in a game. He finished the season batting .317 with 23 stolen bases in 35 games.
Ellsbury was named Red Sox Minor League Base Stealer of the Month for July, when he went a perfect 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts.
Jacoby Ellsbury began the season as the #6 prospect in the Red Sox organization with the Single-A Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Carolina League. On July 3 he tied a Wilmington franchise record by stealing four bases in a game. After batting .299 with 25 steals in 61 games and being named to the 2006 Carolina League All-Star team, he was promoted to the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs of the Eastern League on July 12.
Soon after his promotion to Portland, he was named Eastern League Player of the Week for the week of August 6–13 for batting .400 along with his first Double-A home run and hitting safely in seven straight games. Jacoby finished the Double-A season in Portland batting .308 with 16 steals in 50 games. He was selected by the Red Sox as their minor league Defensive Player of the Year and Base Runner of the Year and given a roster spot on the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League, an off-season developmental league for top prospects. In the AFL, he hit only .276 in 25 games but his defensive skill was enough to earn him a spot in the AFL Rising Stars All-Star game.
Ellsbury participated in the Red Sox' 2007 spring training camp in Fort Myers, Florida as a non-roster invitee and was assigned to the minor league camp on March 9.He was rated the #1 prospect in the Red Sox organization, and was rated as the #33 prospect in baseball for 2007 by Baseball America and #43 by Sports Illustrated.
Minor league play
He started the 2007 season as the starting center fielder for the Sea Dogs and was promoted to the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox on May 4, 2007 after batting .452 in 17 games at Portland and being named the Eastern League Player of the Month for April. He was chosen to play in the 2007 All-Star Futures Game as part of the MLB All-Star festivities at AT&T Park in San Francisco. He went 0–4 in the game.
Ellsbury set a new consecutive game hitting streak record for Pawtucket on August 24, 2007, besting the mark that had been held by both Dave Stapleton and Dave Berg at 19 consecutive games. His streak ended at 25 games on August 31 with an 0–4 outing.
Ellsbury finished the Triple-A season with 33 stolen bases, tied for second in the International League with Darnell McDonald of the Rochester Red Wings, and one behind leader Bernie Castro of the Columbus Clippers; although Castro had 34 steals in 118 games, and McDonald 33 steals in 134 games, Ellsbury's 33 steals came in just 87 games.
For the second consecutive season, the Red Sox selected Ellsbury as their minor league Defensive Player of the Year and Baserunner of the Year.
Major league play
With an injury to Coco Crisp, Ellsbury had his contract purchased and received a call-up to the Red Sox on June 30, 2007, where he made his MLB debut in center field and hit ninth against the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park wearing number 46. He got his first major league hit against Robinson Tejeda of the Rangers in the bottom of the third inning of that game. His first career stolen base came off pitcher Brandon McCarthy and catcher Gerald Laird of the Rangers on July 2, and he also impressed in that game when he scored from second base on a wild pitch. Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame member Johnny Pesky described the play as "the greatest single play I've ever seen in all my years in baseball". He was optioned back to Pawtucket on July 5 after appearing in six games for the Red Sox.
On August 17, he was recalled for the second game of a doubleheader where he led off and played center field. He was then optioned back to Pawtucket after the game.
On September 1, when the Major League rosters expanded to 40 players, he was again recalled to the Red Sox and on September 2 he hit his first major league home run off Daniel Cabrera of the Baltimore Orioles in the bottom of the fourth inning, a solo shot which landed in the Red Sox bullpen.
The New York Times described him in a September 2007 article as a "cult hero" who brings "speed, improved defense, and unbridled enthusiasm."
He was named MLB's American League Rookie of the Month for September 2007 and, with fewer than 130 major league at-bats, still qualified as a rookie for the 2008 season.
During the 2007 postseason, with Coco Crisp struggling, Ellsbury got the start in center field for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians, starting every subsequent postseason game. In eleven total postseason games, he hit .360 in 25 at-bats with two stolen bases.
On October 27, with his two doubles off Josh Fogg in top of the third inning of Game 3 of the World Series, he became the first rookie to hit two doubles in the same inning of a World Series game. After hitting another double off Brian Fuentes in the eighth inning, he became the fourth rookie ever to hit three doubles in a World Series game. His four hits, including a single in the first inning, made him only the third rookie to ever accomplish the feat in the World Series, after Freddie Lindstrom in 1924 and Joe Garagiola in 1946. For the World Series, he batted .438 with four doubles and a stolen base.
Heading into the 2008 season, Ellsbury was ranked as the #13 prospect by Baseball America, the #16 prospect by Baseball Prospectus and the #19 prospect by ESPN Scouts Inc. All ranked him as the #2 prospect in the Red Sox organization behind Clay Buchholz.
Ellsbury hit .224, with .291 On-base percentage (OBP), and a .347 Slugging Percentage in sixteen spring training games and started in center field for the 2008 Major League Baseball season opener against the Oakland Athletics on March 25 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. He hit his first home run of the season on April 6 off Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre leading off the top of the 3rd inning. He stole his first base of the season on April 12, off Mike Mussina and Jose Molina of the New York Yankees in the bottom of the first inning.
On April 22, Ellsbury had his first career multi-home run game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He hit one solo shot off a Jered Weaver pitch in the first inning, and another off a Darren O'Day pitch in the sixth.
On May 18 against the Milwaukee Brewers at Fenway Park, Ellsbury was caught stealing on a pitch-out in the fourth inning, which ended a streak of 25 consecutive stolen bases to begin his career, two shy of the major league record held by Tim Raines in 1979. On May 30 with three steals against the Baltimore Orioles, he became the first Red Sox player to steal more than two bases in a game since Jerry Remy stole four on June 14; 1980; he then stole another three bases in the next game, and one more in the third game of the series, for a total of seven.
On June 15, Ellsbury stole his 32nd base of the season, breaking the Red Sox rookie record, set 100 years earlier by Amby McConnell.
He finished the season with 50 steals to lead the American League and put him third on the list of Red Sox all-time stolen base leaders for a single season, behind Tommy Harper (54) in 1973 and Tris Speaker (52) in 1912. He has also garnered praise for his defense in the outfield, having played 178 games (1,430 innings) without committing an error in his major league career.
Ellsbury finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting, behind Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay and Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox.
Ellsbury hit .333, with a .400 OBP and a .567 Slugging Percentage with three stolen bases in the American League Division Series, in which the Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 3–1 in the best-of-five series.
In the second inning of Game 3 of the ALDS, Ellsbury hit the first three-run single in postseason history when Howie Kendrick and Torii Hunter let a pop-up fall to the ground between them. Shortly after, he stole second base.
After going 0–14 in the first three games of the American League Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Ellsbury was benched in favor of Coco Crisp with only a pinch hitting at-bat in game 4. He did not play in games 5, 6 or 7, as the Sox eventually lost the series 4 games to 3.
On April 12, Ellsbury played his 179th straight regular-season game without an error, breaking Mike Greenwell’s Red Sox franchise record for outfielders. and on April 15, with six errorless chances, passed Coco Crisp for most errorless total chances by a center fielder, setting a new Red Sox franchise record of 433.
On April 26, in a game against the New York Yankees, Ellsbury stole home while Andy Pettitte was in his windup. According to the April 26 edition of SportsCenter, Ellsbury's was the first steal of home plate by a Red Sox player with no other runners attempting to steal since Jeff Frye stole home in a game in 1999 and it was the first steal of home plate with no squeeze attempt or other runners attempting to steal (a "pure" steal of home) since Billy Hatcher in 1994. Following his return to the dugout after the steal, Red Sox fans called Ellsbury back for a curtain call for his performance.
On May 20, Ellsbury tied a major league record for outfielders with twelve putouts in a nine-inning game, tying Earl Clark of the Boston Braves who did it against the Cincinnati Reds on May 10, 1929 and Lyman Bostock of the Minnesota Twins who did it against the Red Sox on May 25, 1977.
On May 27, Ellsbury went 0–3 to snap a 22-game hitting streak.
On June 17, Ellsbury's streak of 232 games and 554 chances without an error ended at Fenway when he had a ball hit by Jorge Cantu of the Florida Marlins go off the top of his glove in the top of the first inning. It was the longest errorless streak by an outfielder in Red Sox history.
On August 21, Ellsbury tied Tommy Harper's Red Sox single season record for stolen bases (54), in a game against the New York Yankees, again facing Pettitte. Ellsbury then broke the record with his 55th steal on August 25, against the Chicago White Sox.
Ellsbury led the American League in stolen bases for the second consecutive year in 2009 with 70. He also led the AL in triples with 10.
Ellsbury won Defensive Player of the Year in MLB.com's annual This Year in Baseball Awards 2009.
During the offseason, Ellsbury changed his uniform number (with permission from the Red Sox and MLB) from 46 to 2. The number 2 had belonged to Brad Mills, the Red Sox' former bench coach, who left the organization to become the manager of the Houston Astros. Ellsbury has also worn number 23 in the past, but not in the majors.
With the Red Sox signing free agent center fielder Mike Cameron and not re-signing left fielder Jason Bay, Ellsbury was moved to the starting left field position as from center field. Ellsbury spent a considerable amount of time playing left field during the 2007 playoffs in late innings when players were being substituted, before earning the primary job in center field over Coco Crisp. The move was made as the result of Cameron's experience in center and inexperience in left. Ellsbury tends to play more flexibly and can thus be moved. Manager Terry Francona expressed excitement over the prospect of playing a true center fielder in left field, creating a larger fielding range and more aggressive style.
On April 11, Ellsbury collided with Red Sox third baseman Adrián Beltré, in a game against the Kansas City Royals. The collision resulted in hairline fractures to four of his left ribs. He was put on the 15-day disabled list on April 20. Ellsbury returned to the Red Sox on May 22.
On May 28, Ellsbury returned to the 15-day DL after playing in only three games due to residual soreness in his left ribs from the collision with Beltré. He met with a thoracic specialist, who advised him that his ribs should be further along in the healing process before he would be able to play. On July 26, Ellsbury started his rehab assignment with Single-A Lowell Spinners. He rejoined the Red Sox on August 4th. On August 9, he was the first baserunner since 1998 to steal four bases against the Yankees.
On August 14, Ellsbury was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the third time in 2010 after re-injuring himself in a game against the Texas Rangers. He did not play again in 2010.
On January 18, 2011 Ellsbury avoided arbitration and signed a one-year, $2.4 million dollar contract with the Red Sox. The contract included a $50,000 bonus should he make 600 to 700 plate appearances in the 2011 season.
Ellsbury was one of the victims of the $8 billion dollar fraud perpetrated by wealth manager Allen Stanford; although Ellsbury had some assets frozen, it did not cause him any significant hardship, like those suffered by Johnny Damon and Xavier Nady.
In 2010, Ellsbury released a Zinfandel wine called ZinfandEllsbury through Charity Wines with 100% of his proceeds donated across three charities: The Navajo Relief Fund, Project Bread: The Walk for Hunger, and Ellsbury Read Project. The wine launched alongside a charity wine by Boston Red Sox teammate Josh Beckett, called Chardon-K.
Jacoby Ellsbury was raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), but as reported in the Boston Globe in 2008, he and his three brothers stopped attending services when Jacoby was a teenager. He said, "I try not to get Him too involved in baseball. What I wish for is good health."