Re: Ellsbury Excelling at Leadoff Position
posted at 5/4/2011 5:16 PM EDT
Boomer, it's not clear what you mean by "when." If Ellsbury was still leaning or taking steps before
he knew where the ball was going, he made a mistake. On a line drive, you put the brakes on immediately and take at least a step back towards the bag. Sure, you want a runner leaning or even cheating towards the next base before
the ball is hit. What counts is what you do after
the ball is hit.
Rod was a maestro with a fungo bat. In drills, he'd put runners on base(s), and then hit line drives or ground balls or shots to the outfield with exact placement in order to teach runners how to react.
He also taught runners how to get a good ( sometimes a rolling ) lead and a good jump. His teams stole the pants off the opposition; stealing third was a specialty. He taught that being smart is as good if not better than being fast on the base paths. Heck, he even let us pitchers run if we thought we could swipe a bag. But we better make it. That got the other team's attention! He hated to give up outs. In "bunt situations," he'd let a pitcher who could handle the bat go the other way instead of bunting. With infielders scrambling, those ground balls sometimes went through for hits. He always forced the action. But his risks were always calculated.
With respect to the issue in question, his golden rule was "make sure the ball goes through." Ellsbury violated the rule. But he's playing exceptionally well. Let's give him a mulligan. But only one.
FWIT, I think Drew may well be the best baserunner on the club. He doesn't make mistakes. And ( hold on ) Varitek is pretty heady on the paths too -- if he ever gets on. Watch, tonight Drew will get doubled off second. Ho.
BTW, along with being a great teacher and a great psychologist, Rod had a terrific sense of humor.