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2013 Red Sox Community Projections: Jacoby Ellsbury

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More so than any other player, Jacoby Ellsbury has a chance to decide the fate of the 2013 Red Sox.

USA TODAY Sports

Say what you will about starting pitching and all the new signings. Jacoby Ellsbury might still be the one player who could make the most difference in Boston.

It's hard to come up with many players who have had years as dramatically different as the last two were for Ellsbury. Ellsbury was Mike Trout before Mike Trout even saw major league action, making it look easy in 2011 as he hit .321 with 32 homers, stole 39 bases, and produced more than nine wins for the Red Sox by fWAR.

In 2012 Ellsbury had a slow few games, was knocked out by Reid Brignac for months with a bad shoulder, and then returned looking nothing like the masterful player he had been the year before. At season's end he was little more than a dime-a-dozen speedy center fielder.

No, the Red Sox can't win if their starting pitching does not improve dramatically over last year. But as far as one player making a massive difference is concerned, Jacoby Ellsbury is the one to watch for. If the Sox do have an otherwise decent team, he's the one player who can put it over the top if he can find his way back.

But can he?