2015 Statistics: 111 G, .257/.318/.345, 7 HR, 33 RBI, 21 SB, 501 PA
2015 Contract Status: Year two of a seven-year, $153 million contract signed 12/3/2013.
This is a year Jacoby Ellsbury likely wants to forget, as do many Yankee fans. 2015 proved to be Ellsbury's worst season as a Major League regular. His inability to break out of his slump in the second half helped cripple a once potent Yankee offense. He posted a 0.9 fWAR this season, the lowest mark he's ever produced in anything resembling a full season of baseball. Coming into the year, many expected him to be the Yankees' best all-around position player, as his first year in pinstripes had gone about as well as we could've hoped. That season, he hit for a 108 wRC+, played excellent defense, and managed to accrue 4.0 fWAR, making him the most valuable member of the team. That's the kind of player we expected this season.
Out of the gates, everything went according to plan. Ellsbury looked great atop the lineup, anchored the defense up the middle and sped around the basepaths. From the beginning of the season until the middle of May, Ellsbury hit .324/.412/.372 with a 124 wRC+ and 14 stolen bases. He and Brett Gardner proved to be the table-setting top of the order we all thought they could be when Ellsbury was signed back in the winter of 2013.
In May the injury bug bit him again. This time, Ellsbury had a knee sprain. To start with it didn't seem like it would hold him out of the lineup for more than a few weeks, but he went on to miss the rest of May and all of June, rejoining the Yankees on July 8th. From that point on Ellsbury struggled mightily, and was never able to find the form that made him so effective in 2014. Perhaps his knee never fully healed; perhaps he just endured an extended slump. Either way, Ellsbury hit .224/.269/.332 - good for a 61 wRC+ - the rest of the year for New York. The low point of Ellsbury's season came in the most important game of the year for New York, as their star center fielder didn't even start the Wild Card Game in October.
With the winter to recover, Ellsbury should begin next season much better than he ended this one. When healthy, Ellsbury is one of the better all-around players in the American League, and it seems pretty clear that health played at least some role in his struggles down the stretch. While he's struggled with injuries before, most of them have been due to bad luck. This year, when stacked up against his career stats, looks like an outlier, so expect 2016 Ellsbury to be closer to the great player we saw in 2014 than the beat up, ineffective one we witnessed this year.