Friday, June 15, 2012

Jealous for AJEllis

Unfortunately, since's Ramona Shelburne wrote one of the two AJ Ellis feature pieces, I couldn't use the headline "Jealous Fellas For Ellis." But anyway, Shelburne's piece is good; it focuses on patience:

LOS ANGELES -- A.J. Ellis abides.

That line comes from one of the fan sites that has sprung up over the course of Ellis' breakout season -- recognizing his extraordinary plate discipline -- which has turned him into something of a folk hero among Los Angeles Dodgers fans. The site, "A.J. Ellis Facts," run by Justin Drummond, a 30-year-old fan from Moorpark, Calif., is homage in the form of The Most Interesting Man in the World ads.

"A walk was only as good as a hit until A.J. Ellis came along and made it just a little bit better."

"A.J. Ellis does not regress to the mean. The mean progresses to A.J. Ellis."

It got rolling about the same time Ellis did this season, which is to say he started strong out of the gate (.291, seven RBIs in April), only got better (.333, four HRs, 16 RBIs in May) and is now helping to carry the team through Matt Kemp's extended stint on the disabled list with a .303 average, 6 home runs and 25 RBIs on the season.

Ellis' teammates have even written in to contribute to the site. On May 18, Dodgers reliever Josh Lindblom wrote: "A.J. Ellis invented the strike zone."

Hyperbole, sure, but he does lead the majors with 4.54 pitches seen per at-bat.

The attention is more humbling than fun. Ellis got here by learning to focus on what's in front of him, not around him.

"As easily as my name was on the Opening Day roster, it might not be on that lineup card tomorrow," he said. "I can't get comfortable; I can't get complacent. I just try to be the same, consistent person every day.

The tumblr A.J. Ellis Facts, echoing Emo Juan Uribe, also got a mention in the LAT profile penned by the bearded one, Dylan Hernandez:

There was a short-lived but spirited campaign on Twitter to get him voted into theAll-Star game.

There is a website, "A.J. Ellis Facts," which wildly exaggerates his virtues, plate discipline being chief among them. Ellis sees an average of 4.54 pitches per plate appearance, the most in the majors.

One entry on the site reads, "A.J. Ellis wonders why every pitcher he faces has Steve Blass Disease." Another, referencing reliever Ronald Belisario's past visa problems: "Ronald Belisario said he once saw A.J. Ellis swing at a pitch in the dirt. He was banned from the U.S. for two years."

Ellis smiles and shakes his head.

"Everyday catcher for the best team in baseball — this is definitely surreal, something I don't take for granted," he says.

But "short-lived"? No way! This campaign trucks on! #AJ2KC