Throughout the offseason, I’ll be dishing out my 2011 Red Sox projections. I do a full set of projections for all major league teams annually at fantasybaseball365.com.
J.D. Drew 2011 projection:
For the past four seasons, J.D. Drew has been a productive player…when he stays on the field. At the age of 35 in 2011, it is unlikely that we see Drew play a full season, but when he does get on the field, he should remain moderately productive.
In 2010, Drew saw a significant drop off in his walk rate and OBP. He also became a liability against left-handed pitching, hitting only .208 against them. Drew began to chase more bad pitches than he ever had over his Red Sox career, which could be an anomaly or a sign of him having to “cheat” on pitches due to slowing bat-speed.
Even though Drew might indeed be starting to decline as a ballplayer, there is reason to believe he can bounce back slightly in certain categories in 2011.
The fact that he hit only .208 against left-handed pitching last season is worrisome, but it is also the first time since 2008 that he hit lower than .270 against lefties. With a little more luck — his .262 BABIP against lefties was the lowest of his career since becoming a regular — Drew could see more success in 2011. Still, one would have to imagine him losing more than a few at-bats against the better left-handed starters next season, which would cut into his overall numbers. Drew was still very productive against right-handed pitchers, posting an .875 OPS against them in 2010.
Since 2010 was the first season since 2003 that Drew’s walk rate was under 14 percent, there is a good chance he makes an adjustment and improves his plate discipline next season. That should lead to moderate improvements in his AVG and OBP.
Also, we can never overlook what a contract year can do for a player’s motivation (cough…Adrian Beltre…cough) and Drew will be looking for a deal after this season that will last for the rest of his career.
In 2011, J.D. Drew should improve his rate stats slightly though his counting stats (HR, R, RBI, etc…) should take a hit as he sits against more lefties and misses his usual time to injury.