A sabermetricians dream player, the casual fans overpayed nightmare, JD Drew is once again doing what he does best…get on base. The reason for the intrigue for Drew, just to reiterate if one is reading for the first time, or maybe just to annoy my most loyal readers, is that the Sabermetrics crowd became infatuated with Drew. Mostly because of the fact that all he does is get on base. And what do they value so highly? On Base Percentage. I think it is safe to say that the ones who make up the sabermetric community feel Drew is a good player. I doubt they think he is great, but good would be a fair estimate I would believe. But the average fan, the ones who rely on what they see and of course a few statistics, mostly the ones they show during a broadcast (Avg, HR, RBI), seem to think Drew is closer to mediocrity. I stand in between.
Drew has never been a great average hitter. He’s always hit for power, but it is mostly found in his slugging percentage, not his final tally of home runs each year. He has never been one to drive in a bunch of runs either, driving in 100 only once, and that season he drove in EXACTLY 100. He has never hit well in the “clutch.” Whether it is because he tenses up, or some may even say he just doesn’t have the same desire to succeed with the game on the line, who knows. But his average in “Late and Close” situations throughout his career is .249 down from .284 during all situations. And his OPS in those situations is .820, down from .888 (not to drastic in that category). Before last season, Drew never played well in the postseason either. So he had that held against him basically until he hit that 1st inning Grand Slam against the Indians in Game 6.
And of course there is that other statistic, the one that fans everywhere have loathed as long as JD Drew was and is playing for their team. The number of times Drew has shown emotion. Which isn’t zero, it is far from that. But it may be closer to zero than any other player of his tenure. And that just gets under the skin of most fans, and I understand why it could, but I don’t personally dwell on it much. Because I value what he does best, what is most important in winning ball games, at least on the offensive side of the ball, and that is the great OBP he carries around every city he goes to. After all, he does not make or break the Red Sox. If he was batting clean-up and was the second best hitter on the team, then I would have some concerns.
But I am one that thinks that stats, over a long period of time, tell what a player brings to the table. I do not believe that Cliff Lee is the best pitcher in baseball, I don’t believe that Chipper Jones will bat .400+ this season, and I certainly do not feel that Josh Beckett will finish the season with a sub-average ERA. But I do think that Drew has been a better-than-average player throughout his career, when he is on the field of course. You don’t just coast to an OPS+ of 128. And you definitely help your team some when you have posted a .390 career OBP.
I was going to write this post earlier while I was at Panera, but I was blogged out after the two posts that I finished. When I returned home, I clicked over to Sox and Pinstripes and discovered Jeff’s own article about Drew. Not quite the same point, but basically describes how he feels about cheering on the same RF as I.
But part of the point of my blog, in addition to some of the stuff I went over, is this: Drew currently has a .394 OBP. He has an OPS+ of 121. He has missed some time, but that is why I never wanted to sign him in the first place (that’s another story that one will have to read past blogs to understand). Once again, while he has been on the field, he has produced. And this may not keep up, no one can tell the future. But whenever he plays, I am confident he will have success. He always has, but the extent of that IS debatable.