Pamplin Media Group – Jacoby Ellsbury on hall of fame ballot

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The Madras and OSU product had an electric start with Red Sox, signed huge contract with Yankees, battled injuries throughout MLB career

Jacoby Ellsbury, a graduate of Madras High School, is on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year. Ellsbury is on the ballot along with 27 other candidates for induction to the hall of fame.

During his 11-year Major League career, Ellsbury hit .284, had 1,376 hits, 104 home runs, 51 RBIS and scored 749 runs. He won one Comeback Player of the Year award, one Gold Glove award, one Silver Slugger award and two World Series titles.

He played seven years with the Boston Red Sox, the team that drafted him in 2005, and four years with the New York Yankees.

Ellsbury moved to Madras from Warm Springs in kindergarten. He is a 2002 graduate of Madras High School, where he was a multi-sport star athlete.

He was drafted out of high school by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but decided to attend Oregon State University on a baseball scholarship. He led the Beavers to their first College World Series appearance in over 50 years in 2005. He was a first round draft choice of the Boston Red Sox that year following his junior season. At that point, he started his professional career.

After steadily moving up in the minor leagues, Ellsbury was called up to the Red Sox in the summer of 2007. He immediately made an impact. He was inserted into the starting lineup during the playoffs and helped the Red Sox to the 2007 World Series title. In the series against Colorado, Ellsbury hit .438 with an on-base percentage of .500, hitting four doubles in 16 at-bats. He also won the nation a free taco from Taco Bell in their promotion honoring the first stolen base in the series.

Following the 2007 World Series, the city of Madras threw a downtown parade for their hometown hero, which culminated in a gathering at the MHS gymnasium. Ellsbury, greeted by wild cheers, addressed the packed house and talked about his great memories of playing sports in high school for the Buffs.

The 2007 series solidified Ellsbury as a rising superstar. In 2008, his official rookie year, he hit .280 and had 50 stolen bases and wound up third in the Rookie of the Year balloting. In 2009, he hit .301 with an on-base percentage of .355, and swiped a team record 74 bases and led the league in triples with 10.

The first of several major injuries took his 2010 season as he played just 18 games. His 2011 season, though, was one of the best offensive seasons in Major League history. He hit .321 with a .376 on-base percentage, had 212 hits, 46 doubles and 105 RBIs. He also mashed 32 homers. He nearly singlehandedly carried an underperforming Sox team into the post-season. He would finish second in Most Valuable Player voting to Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander, who went 24-5 that year.

After helping the Red Sox win their second championship in seven years, topping the St. Louis Cardinals in six games in 2013, Ellsbury left Boston and signed a seven-year $153 million contract with their rivals, the New York Yankees. The magic he helped bring to the Red Sox never materialized in New York. In four years playing there, which included dealing with a handful of injuries, he hit .271, .257, .263 and .264 — solid stats for most Major Leaguers, but not what Yankee fans and management were hoping for and betting on when the contract was signed.

Significant injuries shelved Ellsbury for the 2018 and 2019 season and he was released by the club during the last year of his seven-year contract and never played in the Majors again.

The hall of fame ballots are voted on by over 400 Baseball Writer Association of America members. Nominees need over 75% of voters to approve them before they can be inducted. Results will be announced on Jan. 24.

While he had some outstanding seasons with the Red Sox, and was one of the league’s most effective and exciting players during his prime, Ellsbury is given little chance of being elected to the hall of fame by baseball experts. He made just one all-star game, during his tremendous 2011 season. Injuries kept him from being a consistent producer during much of his career, and certainly during the final years.

Jayson Stark, one of the nation’s foremost baseball writers, contends that potentially no first-timers on the 2023 ballot will be elected this year. The best chance for a first-year nomination, according to Stark, is Carlos Beltran, and Stark doesn’t give him much of a chance to reach that 75% mark.

Being put on the ballot, though, is a tremendous accomplishment. Individuals can stay on the ballot for 10 years.

Ellsbury is the first Native American of Navajo descent to play Major League Baseball. He is the Major League record holder of reaching base via bat interference (his bat hitting the catcher’s glove). In 2017, he did it for the 30th time, surpassing Pete Rose’s total of 29.

A testament to his talent as a college baseball player, Ellsbury was named to the Pac-12’s All-Century Team as an outfielder along with six other players, including Barry Bonds (Arizona State), Reggie Jackson (Arizona State) and Fred Lynn (USC).

Ellsbury resides in Arizona.


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