2010 Fire Brand of the Year: J.D. Drew

Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Game 2
Every year, Fire Brand gives out it's prestigious, most honorable Fire Brand of the Year award. Previous recipients, chronologically: Tim Wakefield, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Timlin, David Ortiz, Mike Lowell and Jason Bay. Wondering what the award is? Simple. The Fire Brand of the American League is a Red Sox player who exhibits character under pressure, an unassuming man who leaves the spotlight for other people but makes his indelible mark on the past season’s Boston Red Sox. A piece most people take for granted, but whom we would have missed dearly.
Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Game 2

Every year, Fire Brand gives out it’s prestigious, most honorable Fire Brand of the Year award. Previous recipients, chronologically: Tim Wakefield, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Timlin, David Ortiz, Mike Lowell and Jason Bay.

Wondering what the award is?


The Fire Brand of the American League is a Red Sox player who exhibits character under pressure, an unassuming man who leaves the spotlight for other people but makes his indelible mark on the past season’s Boston Red Sox. A piece most people take for granted, but whom we would have missed dearly.

Given the picture above and to the right as well as the headline, might as well let the cat out of the bag, right? It’s J.D. Drew. Drew will adorn Fire Brand (sidebar, bottom right — it shows up as Bay, but it’ll be changed in a bit) throughout 2010, representing this Web site.

It’s a well-deserved “award” for Drew, who posted a .914 OPS on the year. His .392 OBP and .522 slugging percentage ranked second among American League outfielders, behind only Bay.

In 137 games, he cranked 24 home runs, 68 RBI and 84 runs. He batted at least once in every position, splitting the most time between second, fifth and sixth.

His defense was fantastic, as it led all right-fielders in UZR/150 with a 15.7 mark. Indeed, Drew was perhaps the most valuable right fielder in all of the game. Looking at Beyond the Boxscore’s DiamondView, a visual mark of how good a player was, only confirms it:

J.D. Drews DiamondView

J.D. Drew's DiamondView

Drew has gotten a lot of flak — some of it rightfully so — over the course of his career. He spurned Philadelphia after being drafted and ended up in St. Louis. His agent is Scott Boras, and Drew personifies with his personality not particularly “caring” who he plays for.

Look, Drew may be a mercenary, but I don’t think the hate against him is reasonable. I can easily see jumping job to job if I keep finding people who will pay me more and more. What he cares about is his play on the field. His self-determination and drive to keep playing day after day after having made millions, won a title and an All-Star MVP… I must say, I am impressed. So what if he doesn’t throw helmets or break bats? His own frustration can be taken out internally or away from prying eyes.

He has been very valuable to a Boston club that tends to either mock or overlook him. I’m with everyone in thinking his rookie AL season — 2007 — was tepid. His $14 Million Grand Slam changed things, though, and he’s been nothing but a high-level contributor since.

Drew has also been miscast for years as someone who should be batting third or fourth — that his talent is that great. Drew is a complementary star player. That’s what he’s always been and will always be. Temper your expectations accordingly, and he gets all that much better. Is anyone expecting Mike Cameron, for example, to be our clean up hitter? No. Then why Drew? It’s because his reputation precedes him as one who should be. I think we’ve had enough body of work to accurately judge Drew… and what is he?

Someone with a tremendous batting eye who doesn’t embarrass himself in the batting average department. He has above-average power with great defense and is a smart baserunner. Even better, he bats from the left side of the plate. When you hear someone described like that, don’t you want that player on your team?

I do. I want J.D. Drew.

Categories: Fire Brand Awards J.D. Drew

Born on the 37th anniversary of the the day Babe Ruth died (1985) which later became the day Jimy Williams was fired in 2001 (a monumental event at the time), Evan was too young to experience the pain 1986 brought, but a deep wound was sowed in 2003. Since then, Fire Brand has become a blog that Red Sox “club officials read,” as per Peter Gammons. Evan enjoys working out, writing, reading, quality television, science fiction and history and being newly married. He is a professional baseball journalist as well as president of a state non-profit and member of the Board of Directors for a national profit. (Twitter.)

80 Responses to “2010 Fire Brand of the Year: J.D. Drew” Subscribe

  1. Bonembob January 1, 2010 at 10:20 AM #

    JD is a great player and I don't understand why more people do not think it? He makes playing right field, in Fenway Park, look easy! Maybe the toughest in all of baseball? He is quiet and unassuming and sheds the limelight. He is a great team mate and does his job and has good numbers. Every year!

    • Gerry January 1, 2010 at 1:21 PM #

      I was living in L.A. when the Dodgers signed J.D. in '05. Media-driven expectations were extraordinarily high, coming off a career year in Atlanta in which he played 145G and hit .305/31/93/1.006. But in terms of slash lines, 2005 was an outlier, matched only by 2001 in which he hit .323/27/73/1.027 over an injury shortened season with the Cards.

      But Dodger Blueblood fans were expecting .300/30/1.000 instead of the taciturn five tool player this article correctly describes. When he played only 72G in '05, the media and fans went predictably berserk, calling him overrated, despite his hitting .286/15/.931 in those 72G. Negative attention focused on the supposed other side of J.D., "injury prone", and the sobriquette "nancy" emerged, and lasted even through his excellent 2006 in which he played so well in 146G that Theo signed him for big $$ . For many vocal fans, he could not redeem himself, and when he left L.A., those same fans were miffed and took it upon themselves to warn Sox fans about the negatives, ignoring the positives. In 2010, they're still full of venom about J.D.

      Theo saw him as you described him, understood his game, and signed him to be somewhere between well above average to great in all aspects of the game, a prototypical Red Sox. But the Boston media and more negative, anti-Theo RSN fans (the dittohaters) were already on him about the $$, and being made of glass. Unfortunately, after his rough adjustment to Boston in 2007, he didn't give the larger, more intelligent (& less vocal) element of the fan base anything showy to brag about until his '07 postseason heroics. The dittohaters don't let facts get in the way, are still out there, and are now ticked off that he is doing so well. That he has played hurt for 2 years is irrelevant to their view of his grit.

      IMO, J.D. is exactly the right choice for this award.

    • Lee Perrault January 1, 2010 at 2:56 PM #

      He's an easy target. He's quiet, he's unassuming, he doesn't overtly hand out fistpumps. Therefore, the pink hats think he just doesn't care.

      Like Evan said, he deserved al the fallout from his draft holdout, but the same people that don't appreciate him are the same people that don't see it's a travesty that Bert Blyleven isn't a hall of famer, or don't think Tim Raines was as dominating as he should be remembered.

  2. Ron LaFleur January 1, 2010 at 11:59 AM #

    What's his percentage of innings played or games played last year (2009)? Once you have that answer, what is his effective cost to the team and correspondingly to the fans?

  3. mascmen7 January 1, 2010 at 1:06 PM #

    Drew loves to walk so do not expect much for his hitting. Lots of walks and strike outs with 68 RBI for $14 million. Good work wonder boy!

    • Aaron January 1, 2010 at 4:32 PM #

      Ted Williams/Barry Bonds/Babe Ruth/MIckey Mantle/Jim Thome/Frank Thomas love to walk so don't expect much from their hitting.

  4. 14 the claw January 1, 2010 at 1:30 PM #

    Dwight Evans made playing RF in Fenway look easy. J.D. Drew is an overpaid, underperforming robot. Period. Kevin Youkilis is a fire brand. Any analysis which takes UZR seriously is pure bunkum. Save that junk metric for fantasy leagues and laptop baseball. The real game is played on grass and we can see with our own eyes that someone like Jacoby Ellsbury excells at what he does. Close the damn lid on your Dell Vostro, lift up your eyes and watch the most beautiful game ever devised actually happen on the field. Can't any of the SABR droid trust their own perception? Offense stats make sense. So called advanced defense metrics are a snare and a delusion, something P.T. Barnum would have loved so he could exploit them. It's all bosh.

    • evanbrunell January 1, 2010 at 2:05 PM #

      The only reason people think Jacoby is a good fielder is because he runs fast. You have absolutely no idea how good of a fielder J.D. is. "Advanced metrics" or no.

      • ericinboston January 2, 2010 at 12:01 AM #

        that was awesome

        • Sarah January 5, 2010 at 7:55 AM #

          People also like Jacoby becuase he’s hot… sorry someone had to say it. He’s the pretty boy of the team… the pink hats LOVE him… I think he’s a good player (and personally not that hot) but I agree that JD was a great choice for this award.

    • Lee Perrault January 1, 2010 at 2:43 PM #

      JD makes playing right field look easy. He also makes compensating for Ellsbury's lack of defensive instincts look effortless and seamless.

      Anyone who slights JD on their "perception" of his defense needs whatever looking glass they are viewing him through fixed. Defensive ability is not measured in one overplayed web gem in Detroit. Advanced defensive statistics only further cemented JD's stellar defensive reputation, which any entry level fan can see, unless they just want to reserve their venom for someone without Papelbon's fistpumps or a friend of the statistically inclined.

    • bob January 1, 2010 at 3:35 PM #

      Do you watch any games? Because if you did you'd see that Ellsbury isn't half the player that Drew is.

  5. Reality Check January 1, 2010 at 4:10 PM #

    The whole point of more advanced defensive metrics is to get past what we "see" on the field. It's a little bit like the legend of the clutch player — we remember the two-out two-strike hit that won the game in the ninth because it is so dramatic; nobody ever says "wow, he was clutch because he secured a 2-1 game in the second inning." One can demonstrate that in a statistical sense there isn't a whole lot of difference in a player's performance between close and late situations and other points int he game. But we don't remember that kind of stuff. For many "clutch" players what you are seeing is a damned good ballplayer performing at the level we expect — whatever inning it is.

    Similarly, for Drew, a good case could be made that since he isn't a speedster, he has to be a better fielder than Ellsbury, who can get away with a lot because he is fast. That is, if he reads the ball poorly, he can make up for it. It also makes for a lot of spectacular plays. But I would rather not depend on the guy who has to make spectacular plays all the time, because the odds are he won't make them as often. I'm not knocking on Ellsbury as a player. The guy has amazing wheels and can manufacture runs like nobody's business. But I'd say he needs to get to the point where his speed isn't the only thing he depends on in center field. (One could compare him to Damon, who over the course of his career has been at least as good in center, and never was as fast).

    Drew's paycheck is hefty, but given that his agent was Boras it isn't that far out of whack. On a yearly basis he doesn't seem too far out of the median for players of his caliber. (Though I would want to run better numbers to find out).

    More problematic is Drew's health, which has never been stellar. He was pretty good in 09, but I think he averages something like 130 games a season?

  6. Forrest January 1, 2010 at 5:54 PM #

    I wonder what JD Drew would hit for average if he didn't take days off against tough lefties and for whatever else ails him. He stole 2 bases and got caught 6 times! He lets balls drop in front of him instead of diving, and walks a lot- when he isn't looking at strike 3 (over 100 K's). Give me Pedroia, Youk, and Jacoby's dirty uniform any day over JD Drew (not to mention JBay, Tek, and Lowell). I've got nothing against the guy personally, but people have been throwing JBay under the bus lately and JD has shown for 3 years a total lack of intensity that many feel keeps him from performing to his potential. Imagine what his numbers would look like if he played with the fire of Pedroia. I can think of many better qualified candidates: Youk, Pedroia, Jacoby, Okajima or Lester. They would have been missed much more "dearly" than JD Drew by a long shot.

    • Alex January 2, 2010 at 3:50 PM #

      True, Drew is very lacking in the Dirty Uniform stat (one of Bill James' favorites). Last year, he was almost 7 DU behind Pedroia. What a chump.

  7. Bill in FLA January 1, 2010 at 6:58 PM #

    Excellent choice for the 2009 Fire Brand Award. I'll take a guy with a .392 OBP and .914 OPS, both in the top 20 MLB rankings for 2009.
    He fields his position well, has a plus arm, and he hits the cut off man. In his first year in Boston, he was a key member of the 2007 Championship Team and I'm proud to have him back in 2010. So his personality isn't pistachio, it's vanilla. He helps you win games.
    Let's hope Hermida can find his way onto the bases as often as Drew.

  8. Bill January 1, 2010 at 7:10 PM #

    I watch alot of Red Sox games.J.D.Drew is a "very" good ball player who can at times irratate peole only because he doesn't stick-up for himself.I like him as a player just not a Red Sox player.The 1 tihng that Drew needs to do is become(at this time of his career doubtful)a tougher player.1 Boston sports commentator has said many times some players play through their aches and pains J.D.Drew doesn't play through anytihng.He's here for 1 tihng J.D. Drew and only J.D.Drew.If the Red Sox were smart J.D. would be the player traded at the trade dead line along with 1 or 2 prospects for that"Big" bat that the Sox are definately going to need this year for the stretch run.J.D's lived off his grandslam for long enough.Good Bye J.D..

    • Aaron January 1, 2010 at 8:25 PM #

      Let's assume for a minute that Drew is only in it for himself. How does that hurt us? He puts up excellent offensive numbers and plays excellent defense. Why should I care what his motivation is?

    • Gerry January 2, 2010 at 10:36 PM #

      Where did that BS come from that J.D. doesn't play hurt. Besides his bum shoulder, he has played hurt every day in Boston, with a very bad back. His type of back injury has too many sad cases in wheelchairs, collecting disability, and parking legally in disabled spaces. He patrols the toughest RF in baseball, perfectly. IF he were to dive the way Ells does, he would be permanently injured. That sure wouldn't help the team. Watch closely, he regularly makes leg first slides to the RF walls, even getting his uniform dirty. Imagine that. I watch close to 160G. He's a dirt dog. I invite you to watch more closely at the perfect reads and quick jumps he gets on balls to RF, and how deeply he regularly ranges to CF and 2b. Since adjusting in mid=2007 to the ALE, JD has been as steady as a rock for this team, and almost as quiet.

      • evanbrunell January 3, 2010 at 12:16 AM #

        Here's the thing. Much like you know a 3B coach is doing well by staying out of the highlight reels and newspapers for gaffes, you know defenders are doing well when they get to every ball with ease — and they do so with an appreciable amount of range covered. For example, Bay converts what he gets to. It can be painful to see him lumber around, though. Ellsbury makes sensational plays, and a fair amount are due to talent. An equal, if not greater, amount are due to poor decisions prior to the highlight reel.

  9. Joe Veno January 1, 2010 at 8:34 PM #

    Didn't there used to be a way for Fire Brand readers to post a blog if they wish? Maybe I am mistaken, but was this feature removed?

  10. Bill in FLA January 1, 2010 at 9:33 PM #

    " J.D.Drew doesn't play through anytihng.He's here for 1 tihng J.D. Drew and only J.D.Drew"

    Didn't he just have his shoulder operated on at the end of the season after playing with a bad wing for the last month of the year? He's far from a dirt dog, but he's not made of glass like many suggest. I have no problem trading anyone on the team, if you get value back in the trade, but to have him shipped out on the next bus leaving town would not be good for the ball club. His value is he's in OBP machine that plays solid defense.

  11. Daniel January 1, 2010 at 10:21 PM #

    Drew would have been my choice as well. Probably one of the five most underappreciated players in the league. A close runner up, though, in my mind was Takashi Saito.

  12. Nick January 1, 2010 at 10:55 PM #

    Laughable!! I really get tired of the "if Theo mutters it, it must be true"crowd. Try thinking for yourself once in awhile. You'll have credibility that way. Drew is a pretty good part-time player but soft and one who lacks human emotion. He's finicky about where he bats in the line-up and would rather take a walk than drive in a run. Can't lead him off/bat him 2nd because he doesn't like it yet you can't put him in the heart of the line-up because he won't "sacrifice" his at bats to drive in runs. And to think this overpaid underachieving robot was the highest paid Red Sox until John Lackey arrived. Amazing!!

  13. @haroldpike January 1, 2010 at 11:33 PM #

    I couldn't be happier with Drew as the 2010 Firebrand. He is a professional who plays the game right, not b*tching and moaning at every called strike like both Youkilis and Pedroia do. He goes out there and does his job and doesn't stir the pot. He is one of the most underrated players in the league and is a true asset to this team, one who often gets derided by people who consider themselves fans. I look forward to Drew having a productive (and hopefully healthy) year and look forward to reading Firebrand daily with his bearded mug on the homepage. Go Sox!

  14. B_isback January 2, 2010 at 1:16 PM #

    For somebody who created this website out of the painful emotions of losing a playoff series to the Yankees, this seems an odd choice. For readers and contributers to this site, who first find their way here through passion for the game of baseball, the Red Sox, and their desire to discuss and express these things with others, I question how you could support this selection.

    Arguing over JD Drew is as futile as arguing over abortion. It's an argument over 2 completely diverse ways of thinking. Abortion is split into the 2 camps of right to live and right to choose. The JD Drew argument is split between sabremetrics and passionists. People will NEVER find common ground when none exists to be found.

    It seems to me, the term Firebrand conjures ideas of a passionate, furious charge of a true believer in a cause, straight into to the teeth of a raging battle. An inspiring central figure to rally around in times of joy and hardship. A leader with light shining about them. That is not JD Drew. Then again neither was Jason Bay, the quiet Canadian carpet-bagger who just left the intensity of Red Sox Nation "for a few dollars more."

  15. B_isback January 2, 2010 at 1:17 PM #

    Baseball is an American past time. It's a game all children are taught. It's a common bond, and common ground, that can ignite intense debate between good friends or complete strangers. Just a casual mention in conversation will stir the embers of a fans inner fire. To acutually have the skills to play the game for a living would be complete Nirvana, an honor of the highest magnitude.

    To watch a man with the skills to not only be good but great, go through the motions as if bagging groceries, has always created an uneasy fealing for me. For God sakes even a grocery bagger would show some emotion on a bad day, or a good day, or at least SOMETIME. How on earth can you play a game which is woven into the fabric of millions of people's passions, woven into the history of our nations summers, woven into the fabric of both fond and painful memories, with all the exhibited emotion of an olive pit?

  16. B_isback January 2, 2010 at 1:17 PM #

    Forget about his uzr, his ops, his ops+, his games played, forget about his salary. Where's his fucking heart and soul? Where is the fire in this firebrand? Or doesn't that even matter to all the Bill James fantasy stat driven video game playing robots walking like zombies into Fenway these days? How can a passionate Nation support a passionless player?

    • Aaron January 2, 2010 at 3:41 PM #

      Do you really have a problem with some Red Sox fans going to Red Sox games?

      • B_isback January 3, 2010 at 5:29 AM #

        Actually there are some I do have a problem with. The ones who get a ticket from a company with season tickets as a perk, or write off, or enticement to do more business. I think it so wrong on so many levels its not worth going into. I also think the jack asses who spend the entire game on their cell phones waving at the cameras need to be thrown out. And the drunks who yell obsenities so loud at the end of a late game that where most fans have left, that I can here them on my TV set.

        Simple answer to you question therefore is yes.

        • Aaron January 3, 2010 at 12:11 PM #

          I think I agree with you about the drunks (I look forward to bringing by daughter to games when she's old enough and explaining that kind of behavior to her will not be fun), I kind of agree about the other two categories but probably not, as long as people aren't actively bothering others.

          In your post you made it sound like you had a problem with saber oriented fans attending the games, is that what you meant?

  17. B_isback January 2, 2010 at 1:21 PM #

    By the way, The DiamondView chart has some really pretty colors.

  18. B_isback January 2, 2010 at 1:28 PM #

    Put 9 JD Drews on the field and you may win 162 games. But who the hell would want to watch.

    • Aaron January 2, 2010 at 3:33 PM #

      I would.

    • @Reeddav January 2, 2010 at 6:51 PM #

      me too. i like when my team wins.

    • Gerry January 2, 2010 at 10:40 PM #

      He's one of the reasons I watch almost every game. And I'm not a stat-head.

  19. Patrick MacKenzie January 2, 2010 at 6:11 PM #

    There was a radical shift by those who embrace sabermetrics regarding JD Drew when Theo stated that he was worth his salary and probably a little bit more. Suddenly, he became the MVP of the team. Sorry, Theo. Regardless of what invisible numbers you are looking at, when JD Drew is batting 8th in a playoff game, he is not worth $14 million. No defense is worth that much. And for the love of God, people, exactly how valuable is a player who looks at 6 pitches and walks to first base when there's a runner in scoring position? Give me a Nomar Garciaparra over that guy any day of the week.

    • evanbrunell January 2, 2010 at 6:45 PM #

      My favorite part is that you think Drew is bad, but he was the 2nd best outfielder behind Jason Bay in the AL.

    • Aaron January 2, 2010 at 10:13 PM #

      I'm always a bit confused when people aren't interested in new things. If a school of thought arises, one espoused by many very smart people, many people in positions of power in that field, isn't that a great opportunity for us to learn something new? Patrick, you ask how valuable a player can be who walks on six pitches with a runner in scoring position. There is an answer to that question and there are many who would be happy to talk with you about it. We could also investigate how good a player's defense would have to be to be worth $14 million or how a batter hitting 8th in the playoffs could be worth that much. These are all great questions that you are asking, so why stop as asking them? Why not investigate?

      People often characterize saber fans as arrogant but to me there's a lot more humility in admitting that we don't really know all of the details of the game and that some things that we find out might be counter to our intuitions. Who really thinks that they understand everything about baseball, anyway?

    • Gerry January 2, 2010 at 10:47 PM #

      This website has always been a fan of JD. Forget the so called advanced metrics. Just look at his current and historic OBP, SLG, E's, Fielding %. He's incredibly valuable to this team.

      Passionate? How many of you anti-JD 'fans' were on him when he was struggling in 2007 because his son was so sick? Robots don't worry about their kids, right? How many of you noticed how well he hit when and since his kid's body cast came off and the kid was fine? How many of you know about the work he has done in his hometown, including the huge baseball complex for kids? How many of you loved this team before 2004 started turning Sox fans into whining MFY fans?

      • B_isback January 3, 2010 at 5:56 AM #

        Nobody got on JD Drew because his son was sick. People got on Drew because he was playing lousy baseball. He hit more weak ground balls to 2B in 3 months than most player do in 3 years. He failed to make any adjustments on the field. When people found out what he was going through at home I think most people were sympathetic and understanding

        But to your second point, I don't give a rats ass what his off the field passions are. That's not what I get to watch.

    • TroyPatterson January 3, 2010 at 1:46 AM #

      I wrote he was worth the money on June 21 2009 at RotoSavants.com before I started YawkeyWay or joined FireBrand. http://www.rotosavants.com/2009/06/jd-drew-war-an

      You can also search Fangraphs who did a similar study earlier this year. This is all before Theo's comment's so your point is incorrect.

  20. Patrick MacKenzie January 2, 2010 at 6:13 PM #

    Keep drinking Theo's Kool-Aid, Firebrand! I guess I should find some thought-provoking analysis elsewhere.

    • Sam January 3, 2010 at 10:24 AM #

      I beg to differ. This post has generated nearly 60 comments so far: if that's not thought-provoking, I don't know what is.

  21. Patrick MacKenzie January 2, 2010 at 6:18 PM #

    One last thing, JD Drew has not played in exactly 100 Red Sox games in 3 years. That's right. How is THAT worth $14 million per year, Theo? Man, he has no objectivity towards the player whatsoever.

  22. Joe Veno January 2, 2010 at 6:31 PM #

    Actually he has exceeded 100 games in each year. But I feel that you meant to say 150. The fact is that to get a player on the free agent market, you must pay money to do so. And realistically, every single team will need to address an issue, most more, via the free agent market. The average player costs $9 mill in free agency now, is Drew really that overpaid? I would prefer Nomar, as you stated, but Nomar in his prime was easily one of the best shortstops of all time, and was one of the best hitters in the league at the time. I too would take Nomar's prime over Drew, I would take it over a lot of people.
    Regarding this award, I see why disagree with the choice, but JD Drew is a solid baseball player, and most that know baseball agree.

    • Lee Perrault January 3, 2010 at 2:05 AM #

      Yeah, i was going to say, people saying they'd take Nomar "in his prime" over JD Drew are making a fairly convenient substitution. There's not many players in baseball who were better than 1999-2000 Nomar. Who wouldn't want 1999-2000 Nomar over 99% of the players in baseball right now?

      Except they'd probably forget to realize 1999-2000 Nomar was good because he walked a bunch. It's funny how Nomar's two best years also had his two highest career walk rates.

    • B_isback January 3, 2010 at 6:15 AM #

      140 + 109 + 137 = 386 games played
      162 + 162 + 162 = 486 games

      That is 100 games missed in 3 years. At that pace he will miss an entire year out his five year contract, effectively making him a $17.5 million / yr player. Or as Theo might put it, just a tick below average value.

      • Aaron January 3, 2010 at 12:21 PM #

        You kind of make it sound like a player should be playing in every game, is that what you mean? I do agree with you that durability is not a strength of his and I'd rather JD was averaging about 150 games a year, too, but I have no real problem with 140 and 137.

  23. evanbrunell January 2, 2010 at 6:35 PM #

    Better than a first pitch pop up that Nomar liked to do.

  24. bob January 2, 2010 at 7:01 PM #

    looks like the idiot brigade came out in force this weekend.

    If the debate between people who like and dislike jd drew is so like abortion that the two sides will never agree on it then count me as glad that I'm among those who look at things like empirical evidence and metrics that measure more than dirty uniforms. take a second and just think. the whole point of hitting is not to make an out, JD drew makes less outs than a vast majority of players. therfore JD drew is good. It is actually that simple. There's a reason why teams that value that ability (Red Sox, Yankees) are big winners and teams that don't (Royals) are consistent losers.

    As for the personality issue, do you know JD Drew? Did you go to school with him, is he a family friend? No? The I don't care what you think of his personality. In most jobs people who do what they're supposed to inn a professional manner like Drew are welcomed, but baseball fans want everyone to be a jackass? Think about your professional life for a second, who do you respect more, the resident office loudmouth or the guy who might be a bit quiet or unemotional but does his job to the highest degree? It's a bit telling that no one in Red Sox organization has ever said a bad word about Drew and that all the criticism comes from screaming talk radio hosts and people who can't figure out how walks are a good thing.

    • Gerry January 3, 2010 at 2:49 AM #

      Agree. Screaming fans are born of screaming talk show hosts who are trying to push their ratings. Sound like dittoheads? In baseball they are dittohaters. Don't bother them with facts.

      • Lee Perrault January 3, 2010 at 5:55 AM #

        For everyone lamenting over finding some "thought-provoking analysis", the dittoheads seem pretty adverse to anything that's out of their pink-hat comfort zone. Oh noes! Defensive stats are voodoo because my favorite player got a bad rating and Captain Robot-Face did good!

    • B_isback January 3, 2010 at 6:57 AM #

      Since you seem to be calling me an idiot –

      There is a difference between personality and persona. I never mentioned either one. But I want you to know the difference.

      Personality is what you exhibit with people during direct personal interaction. For all I know Drew may be a slap and tickle barrell of laughs in the clubhouse.

      Persona is an outward "projection" of a persons personality that is perceived by people who watch their actions.

      My only comment in this regard was "with all the exhibited emotion of an olive pit?". Which of the later definitions does that fall under.

      So why don't you take your condescending remarks about "do you know JD Drew? Did you go to school with him, is he a family friend? No?", and shove them up your @$$

    • B_isback January 3, 2010 at 7:12 AM #

      By the way. The whole point of hitting is not always to not make an out. It really isn't that simple. Do you realize a sac-fly that brings a run across the plate will get you an RBI even though you made an out. It is also a thousand times more valuable to your team to have the run than to make the third out with two guys on base. That comment was plain dumb.

      • Aaron January 3, 2010 at 1:04 PM #

        I'm not sure exactly what you mean here, B. Obviously making a third out is almost always the worst outcome in baseball (I guess if you get in a rundown long enough to allow a run to score and then get tagged out that might be an exception,) but I think you might be talking about the relative value of a sac-fly versus a walk, is that right?

        That's an interesting question and obviously depends somewhat on the situation – most people would agree that a sac-fly when your team is down ten runs is not as valuable while it's more valuable in close, late-game situations. Statistically speaking, based on the actual baseball record, the walk is worth more. In other words, if you look at all the actual real life situations in which there was a runner on third with fewer than two outs teams scored more runs when the batter walked than when he hit a sac-fly. Again, that's not statistical prediction or advanced math that's just looking at the actual situations that happened on the baseball diamond.

        • B_isback January 3, 2010 at 10:05 PM #

          My point was that very pitch and play in a game is situational. You just can't make a blanket statement that your only objective is to not make an out.

          Were did you get this information? – " if you look at all the actual real life situations in which there was a runner on third with fewer than two outs teams scored more runs when the batter walked than when he hit a sac-fly. Again, that's not statistical prediction or advanced math that's just looking at the actual situations that happened on the baseball diamond."

          • Aaron January 3, 2010 at 11:30 PM #

            This info is from "the book" by Tom Tange. He essentially took every at-bat in baseball between 1999 and 2002 and saw what happened in each individual situation. Essentially he looked at every time there were zero outs and no one on, zero outs and a man on 1st, zero outs and a man on 2nd, zero outs and a man on 3rd, zero outs and a man on 1st and 2nd, zero outs and a man on 1st and 3rd, etc. etc. for every possible combination of men on base and outs in the inning (there are 24 such combinations of men on base and outs.) Again, these are actual situations in MLB games, Tango wasn't going into his study with an agenda, he wanted to study what actually happened in real games.

          • Aaron January 3, 2010 at 11:31 PM #

            As far as I know Tango does not seem to look specifically at the sac-fly vs. walk situation but it's pretty easy to read his data (if I'm doing it wrong I'd be happy to have somebody walk me through it.) I'll just walk you through one of the events in question, one out, man on 3rd. Throughout the time in question MLB teams in that situation scored, on average, .983 runs. If the batter walked then there would still be one out but now there would be men on 1st and 3rd. In that state in the time in quesiton MLB teams scored, on average, 1.243 runs. So the walk added .260 runs. If the batter hit a sac-fly then there would be one run definitely on the board but the team would also have no men on and two outs, a state that averages .117 runs. So a sac-fly leaves the team with an expected 1.117 runs (one for the definite run that scored and .117 for the expected runs after the event.) So the sac-fly add .134 expected runs to the situation versus the .260 expected runs added by the walk. I did look quickly at every possible sac-fly situation and found similar numbers but I won't bore you with the specifics.

          • Aaron January 3, 2010 at 11:32 PM #

            Now again, I'm NOT saying that all walks are more valuable than all sac-flies. As you've said and I think everyone agrees, there are many different situations in baseball and there are times when a definite run on the board is worth more than an increase in possible runs later. But it does mean that teams who want to score the most runs over a season should value a walk more than they value a sac-fly IN GENERAL.

            This is also a case in which I didn't know the answer to the question before hand. As you can see the value of a walk is not a lot greater than that of a sac-fly and I don't see how a fan, even one who watches every game carefully, will ever be able to "see" such a difference. But it is a real difference and a team that appreciates such a difference will score more runs than one that does not.

          • Aaron January 5, 2010 at 4:45 PM #

            Just for those who are interested it looks like the situation I chose, one out and a man on third, is the most sac-fly situation there is. In all of the other situations in which a sac-fly is possible the value of that sac-fly is lower, all the way up to a bases loaded situation in which obviously a walk is more valuable than a sac-fly.

            Jim Albert and Jack Bennett looked at the sac-fly question in their book "Curve Ball" (they did pretty much what I did but more rigorously) and found that there were only two situations in which a sac-fly produced any positive expected run value, one out and a man on third or a man on first and third with one out. In other words, imagine a manager in a sac-fly situation and the batter is an average hitter, who then hits a sac-fly. If a friendly deity offered the manager a chance to replay the at-bat the manager should take it, unless the situation was 1st or 1st and 3rd with one out.

    • B_isback January 3, 2010 at 8:39 AM #

      Allow me to correct one last error on your post. Terry Francona is the ultimate players' manager. For him to even hint to the media that a player might not be dedicated to winning, to me, is a huge indictment. Conversations in the clubhouse or the dugout between player and manager are nearly sacrosanct. Why would he then divulge this? –

      From Boston.com Extra Bases August 15, 2009:

      J.D. Drew's sore left groin struck again last night. In the eighth inning, Drew told manager Terry Francona he might not be able to finish the game. This was at a point when Clay Buchholz had been pressed into service as a pinch runner. "I said, 'Look at the the scorecard. You have to,' " Francona said. "We already put a pitcher into run. That's all we got to do, put somebody out in [expletive] right. It would have been like a circus."

      That's the enigma. All the talent in the world. No heart.

      • B_isback January 3, 2010 at 8:51 AM #

        By the way, he stayed in the game and hit a crucial home run to solidify the win that night. The after a mere two days off with a sore groin made one of the best base-running efforts I can remember from last year. How do you do that with a groin so sore you asked out of a game so recently?

        • evanbrunell January 3, 2010 at 4:02 PM #

          Drew may be a hypochondriac or just simply doesn't want to play hurt, but I'm not prepared to link that to a possible lack of heart.

          • B_isback January 3, 2010 at 9:25 PM #

            I can't personally see that situation any other way. His team team was short of players in a tight game. Guys were pitching in in roles they weren't used to. How could you possibly ask to come out of that game. How could just walk away from your teammates in that situation. He clearly was good enough to not only finish that game but run hard two days later. A manager like Francona would never mention that to the press unless he was annoyed and was trying to send a message. And how do you think the rest of the team felt about that when they heard he asked out?

          • jenni February 23, 2010 at 11:07 AM #

            Okaa seriously baseball isn't "personal" Ease up on Drew a bit! You don't always know what some one is dealing with or exactly why he asked our for that game!! And "personaly" its not your business! He's a good player leave it at that!!!!

  25. bob January 2, 2010 at 7:02 PM #

    And I apologize for my spelling and grammar.

  26. B_isback January 3, 2010 at 6:40 AM #

    I guess my analogy of the abortion argument was pretty accurate.

    The thing that happens is you first get homogenized into THEM or THEY. Then you get insulted as a group with comments like "idiot brigade", "pink hats", "dittohead / dittohater" – and frankly I don't even know what those two mean.

    Then things are attributed to you that you never said. Like I completely diregard his value to the team and don't have any respect for valid stats. Or that I even ever once mentioned his "personality".

    Next your statements get misrepresented or twisted like Patricks point about how many games Drew has missed. What he said, he said accurately and clearly.

    Then we have Gerry who implies the opposition to his views are like the frenzied mob storming Frankenstien's castle prodded and programmed by the useless commentators on WEEI. Beautiful.

    • Aaron January 3, 2010 at 12:33 PM #

      I actually agree with you for the most part here, B, I think it's pretty difficult to have a civil discussion on these forums sometimes. I try to remind myself to respond individually to what people say and to ask if I'm unclear but we all get a little carried away sometimes. For instance B, you seem to have equated Bill James fans with zombies, "Or doesn't that even matter to all the Bill James fantasy stat driven video game playing robots walking like zombies into Fenway these days?" is that what you meant? Because I don't see how that's much different from lumping people into the "idiot brigade" or "pink hats" category.

      Also, Joe Veno's misread about the "100 games" post was probably just a simple mistake and not a deliberate misrepresentation of what Patrick said. Why not ask Joe instead of assuming his motives were underhanded?

      • B_isback January 3, 2010 at 9:51 PM #

        Thanks Aaron. I really don't mean to crucify anybody here. I don't think that Joe was trying to be insidious. But I was trying to point out that two strong willed sides of an issue often are so ready to counter every word from each other, they stop taking the time to listen to, or read the others words carefully.

        I don't think ALL Bill James fans are unobjective either. But many of the new generation are learning the game through numbers and fantasy leagues. Many go to games to watch players earn them points without appreciating or, in some cases even understanding the game. They watch real players as if they were characters on a video game. It's a very detached observance. It's not Bill James fault either. Kids go outside and toss the ball around.

        • ChiTomA January 4, 2010 at 8:14 PM #

          I really think that you're generalizing "stat" people here by mixing them in with fantasy leagues. I think you should remember that we are all on this blog because we watch and follow the Boston Red Sox. We are arguing about a Red Sox player, not just some random OFer for fantasy baseball. I think just about anyone that goes to a baseball game is there to watch the game or, if nothing else, take in the atmosphere.

          As an aside…do a lot of people really watch baseball for fantasy? I mean I understand doing this for the NFL since they have shorter games, easier scoring and players that are on the field more often. Watching baseball for fantasy points would have to be more boring than watching paint dry. Waiting three innings for your batter to come up again or waiting 8 innings for a fantasy closer to show up… I really don't think most people do that.

          I mean for me personally, when I go to a baseball game or even when I watch it on TV its to enjoy the baseball and how its played. My interest in statistics comes only to better explain the questions that come up for me. Why does JD Drew look so routine in the huge Fenway RF while Ellsbury runs all over the place in smaller center? What made the 1996-2000 Yankees such an aggravating team for our Sox to play against? (for me it was their ability to take pitches while our batters hacked at everything…I didn't know this at the time, but OBP, pitches per at-bat, and stats like that enlightened me later) Each of these were questions that I had that statistics helped me answer and gave me a more complete understanding of what I'm seeing on the field when I watch a game.

      • B_isback January 3, 2010 at 9:53 PM #

        Stats are very useful in building a team. Trying to figure out how certain players match up. Predicting WAR for an entire team and holding it up against other teams in your division to gauge your chances. Stats rightly play an increasingly important role during games. But the game is played by human beings who are flawed, and unpredictable, and amazingly talented all at the same time. Stats are not the be all and end all of baseball. They never have been and I hope they never will be.

  27. Patrick MacKenzie January 3, 2010 at 11:31 PM #

    "The point of hitting is not to make an out" is simply not true to those on the field. Your plate approach is dictated by game situation, such as hitting the other way to move a runner over, or widening your strike zone with a runner in scoring position. A walk is rarely as good as hit for the simple fact that a batted ball in play could be misplayed into an extra base, not to mention the obvious fact that a walk moves ZERO runners unless there is a runner on base. Obviously, a hit will move all base runners and oftentimes will move them an extra base. Your statement says it all — the point of "hitting" is….hitting.

    • Aaron January 3, 2010 at 11:54 PM #

      I think everyone would agree that a walk is almost always less valuable than an extra base hit so the best comparison here is probably between a walk and a single. And the fact is the a single is, generally, more valuable. But remember also that a single is probably more difficult to achieve than a walk, depending on the pitcher and the defense. No one can rob a hitter of a walk with a great diving stab and we've all seen guys crush the ball into an out. A batter just has more control over whether he walks than whether his batted ball is fielded.

      There are other less tangible benefits of a walk as well, higher opposition pitch counts and a more rattled opposing pitcher seem pretty likely, but again, I'll take a single over a walk any day after the fact but the ability to walk is a lot more in the batter's control than his ability to hit a single.

  28. Patrick MacKenzie January 3, 2010 at 11:47 PM #

    Evan makes a point that Theo cited that JD Drew was the 2nd best outfielder in the American League. Ludicrous. It's one thing to look at a player's value based on "averages" when he misses 25 games, but is that the only way, or the most accurate way? I don't think so. How about looking at total bases? JD Drew ranked 48th in the A.L., 19th among A.L. outfielders, and 7th on his own team. Considering he bats near the bottom of the lineup, this seems like a better way to truly gauge his worth. He is a good baseball player. I like him on the team. But he has been a major bust when salary is taken into consideration.

    • TroyPatterson January 5, 2010 at 3:15 PM #

      Total bases do not include walks. So you are taking away the one stat he is best at. He was 9th among all OF in walks.

      How can you claim "averages" are not an accurate weight of a players performance? That is insane. When J.D. Drew is on the bench are the Red Sox forced to play with only 8 on the field? No. Then you weight performance based on when they do play. If the Red Sox play Drew for 130+ games and he is worth 4.7 wins or $21+ then play a replacement player for 30 games they still get a final total of 4.7 WAR and $21+ production.

      In 2009 the Red Sox had Rocco Baldelli who was essentially replacement level and that is what they got in RF. Baldelli was a bit above replacement and so let's say an even 5 WAR or $22 million in RF.

      Would Drew be even more valuable at 150+ games? Of course, but that doesn't discount what he was worth in those games he did play.

      • Joe January 5, 2010 at 2:29 PM #

        According to 'WAR' Drew was the sixth best outfielder in the AL. Which is really good, seeing how there are 42 starting outfield spots available in the league. He has been worth the money.

  29. Lee Perrault January 5, 2010 at 2:47 PM #

    "Stats are not the be all and end all of baseball. They never have been and I hope they never will be. "

    I wanted to respond to this on the trunk of the comments so everyone sees it.

    Nobody is claiming stats are the only thing that controls baseball. Not here. Not Rob Neyer. Not Baseball Prospectus.

    I don't doubt that a human being's frame of mind, distractions, almost anything else you can dream up can affect their play. Look at Adrian Beltre as a great example: he has that one outlier year gunning for a contract in LA. It's a huge outlier compared to the rest of his seasons.

    The point of the wave of statistical analysis is trying to find some real reasons WHY a certain player performs a certain way, both in large and smaller sample sizes.

    Why did Dustin Pedroia hit .130 his first April? Was he nervous? Was he scared? Did the guys rib him with a lot of short jokes? Instead of just picking out an arbitrary reason, you can use statistical analysis to figure out why a player is performing a certain way, and actually have some certainty! Let's say Dusty was nervous. How can I prove that? Instead, let me try and actually find some proof.

    Dusty's BABIP in April? .204

    The average player over the course of many many many at bats, will get 30% of his balls in play to fall as hits. We've figured that out over millions upon millions of at bats collected in baseball's history.

    So in that April, when people were calling for Dusty's head, instead they should have realized exactly what was happening: He wasn't "hitting them where they ain't".

    You've heard Remy say this over and over about a guy "swinging the bat well but hitting it right at people". Well, statistical analysis categorized that as BABIP. Now you have a way to look be and see what's going on, rather than trying to deduce it from a handful of chances that is most likely not enough data to make a real conclusion.

    One thing to remember, it that those of us who are more statistically or mathematically inclined are not here to attack the mystique and magic of baseball like Dan Shaughnessy thinks we are.

    We're a group of people who want to learn to appreciate the game more by asking why. Why are walks important? Why is defense important? Why is JD Drew so valuable even though he's Captain Robot-Face. Why should we not fall into thinking players like David Eckstein aren't more than just very poor players who look better because they are scrappy or make one good play. Why should players like Matt Holliday not have his entire defensive resume thrown out the window because of one gaff in the playoffs? Yet others players (Jeter) get a free pass when they make a terrible play?

    This notion that is perpetrated by the Curly Haired Boy Friend and Jon Heymans to say statistically inclined people are no fun, nerds, or sucking the life out of the game is ludicrous. It infuriates me that THEIR way is the only way to love baseball. That THEIR way is the only way to judge who is and who isn't good.

    People thought the world was flat once too. Just because statistics now prove AVG and ERA are equally narrow and limiting when learning to gauge who or what a player is doesn't mean we're ruining baseball. Advances in analysis whether driven by math or inspection should not be automatically cast out because it's weird and scary.

    Please don't get discouraged because FB has a bunch of nerds in it's ranks now. Don't think our passion for uncovering the truth is a mask for not appreciating the game, or removing the human element in it.

    Look at us the same way I look at my friends I've sat next to at Fenway for the past 10 years. There's a group of 15 of us that own seats in my section, and have for many years. Some of them may not agree with everything I say. Some may still think defense is overrated, and some may still think Dice-K is a good pitcher. However, we listen to each other, and take things away form each other that maybe we never learned before. The first time I remember I was talking about UZR/150, something clicked for one of the guys who later told me that after watching Ellsbury play on TV a few nights afterwards, he started top notice his poor routes to fly balls the stats were screaming about.

    THAT is what statistical analysis is here to achieve. It's here to help us notice more subtle things about the game.

    B_isBack, Patrick, and anyone else who is skeptical about these things, I implore you: DO NOT STOP BEING SKEPTICAL.

    Being skeptical fuels these discussions, and is more important than a bunch of robot that agree with everything we say. Staitstical analysis is all about searching for and uncovering the truth. You only can do that if you have people disagreeing.

    • Mike February 15, 2010 at 4:01 PM #

      Can't approve of this comment enough. Seriously, why does wanting to analyze the game more make one a robot who hates baseball?

  30. Joe R January 29, 2010 at 12:14 PM #

    Here's why Drew is viewed as an underachiever to many:

    He hits with power. Men who hit with power *should* have a lot of RBI's, especially in a lineup as potent as Boston's, but he doesn't. Some people feel it's an issue of clutch. So, let's look at how he's done in his career with RISP vs. no one on (IBB's not included):

    RISP, w/out 45 IBB: .280/.392/.496

    No men on (no IBB's): .286/.388/.511

    So he's like 4 bleeders up the middle and 3 380 ft outs turned into 3 HR's from being the exact same guy in both situations, and that is likely overstating the difference. While his "late and close" stat does suck, he's hit a little bit better in close games in his career, as his tOPS+ (in the form (tie, within 1, within 2, within 3, within 4, over 4)) = (105, 103, 101, 101, 100, 97). So, he doesn't choke, so all people have left is his lack of playing time. Now fangraphs becomes useful.

    Since 2000, Drew's averaged 485 PA's a season. Means a backup OF would get 165 PA. Last year's closest thing to a replacement level RF was Jeff Francoeur, who did this:

    632 PA, 593 AB, 115 1B, 32 2B, 4 3B, 15 HR, 23 BB, 92 SO, 6 HBP, 13 GDP, 6 SB, 4 CS, -6.1 UZR. So, here's our replacement level RF over 165 PA:

    30 1B, 8 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 6 BB, 24 SO, 2 HBP, 3 GDP, 2 SB, 1 CS, -1.6 UZR.

    Add in Drew's 485 PA averages and around +6 for UZR, and get a line that looks like:

    .284/.377/.484 with 24 HR and a +4.4 UZR.

    So, how did ultimate superhero demigod Ichiro do in 2009?

    .352/.386/.465, +10.5 UZR.

    …oh. So, Drew + Replacement is almost the exact same as Ichiro? Okay.