Oh JD Drew, How They Hate You

Drew Makes Contactphoto © 2008 Eric Kilby | more info (via: Wylio)

Maybe it’s the contract. Maybe it’s the attitude. Maybe it’s the omnipresent sense of a nagging injury. Maybe it’s because of Trot Nixon. Maybe it’s because of the slash line. Maybe it’s the inconsistency.

Whatever it may be — Red Sox fans don’t like JD Drew.

Is he Theo Epstein’s biggest ‘mistake’? That’s what fans on Twitter and Facebook news feeds for NESN, ESPN, etc would have you to believe.

Just minutes after singling home the game-winning run on Saturday in extra innings against the Oakland Athletics, the “yeah-but” Red Sox crowd rushed to the lines to scream their disgust for Drew.

Sure…not every single person that follows the Red Sox dislikes JD Drew. I’m exaggerating here. There are plenty of fans who try to settle the lynch mobs and display unwavering support.

They are usually also the people who seem to get it.

Saturday’s extra-inning comeback win was fun. But put everything about the ups and downs of that day game aside; one thing was clear to me on Saturday…Red Sox fans hate JD Drew.

I used to think it was just the typical bitching and moaning of fickle fans in Boston. I used to think it was just a lack of understanding and that people would eventually come around on him. But on Saturday…just minutes after the game ended, I received a text that said: “I’ll be glad when Josh Reddick is in right field next year. I [expletive] hate JD Drew.”

Unsolicited! This text was unsolicited. I did not ask this person their thoughts on Drew. I didn’t even so much as ask what they thought of the game. Minutes after a game-winning, 14th-inning circus show, Drew was not the undisputed hero, he’s the “yeah-but” guy in a celebration of a game HE knocked in the winning run and he was still the scapegoat. Huh?

“‘BOUT time he did something for that money! Waste of money!”

I am going to defend Drew in all of this. I am a supporter of him and as you all know, JD Drew was the 2010 Fire Brand of the Year.

He has been chased from team-to-team by people who dislike him. The perception of Drew is not a positive one from a fan’s perspective. He is not outwardly emotional and has never lived up to the expectations or the comparisons to Mickey Mantle. (Mickey Mantle. Here you go kid. Good luck living up to that.)

Unless you are a Braves fan and were able to enjoy his offensive clinic in 2004, then you are probably wishing for a little more juice from this guy. I think we can all agree that we’d love to have more counting stats from Drew.

I think everyone can appreciate the desire to have a 25 HR, 100 RBI corner outfielder. That is probably what Red Sox fans were expecting when the Sox inked Drew to a 5-year, 70-million dollar deal.

He’s been bagged by counting stats his whole life. Everyone wants more from him.

And the day the Red Sox signed Drew, Epstein was already addressing the attitude questions and the perception of Drew not ‘caring’.

“Certain times, you want to bring someone in not to be the [primary] guy,” the Epstein said, noting that with Ortiz and catcher Jason Varitek, Drew does not need to be a clubhouse leader. “Virtually every player is a collection of strengths and weaknesses. We wouldn’t make a move like this if we didn’t feel like the player could perform in the role that we have earmarked for him.” ESPN

Drew is not off to a good start in 2011. That is not a news flash to anyone. The .213 xBA is worse than his actual .228 BA and the extra-base power has been virtually non-existent and well-below league average.

Right now, Drew’s wOBA (.297) is hanging in with the likes of Brendan Ryan and Cliff Pennington — two light-hitting infielders. That’s not a good sign for the 35-year old. His contact versus LHP, the power, EYE, speed all began trending downwards last year. You could expect a dip in production for 2011, but not this bad. Hidden injury? (Don’t roll your eyes)

This is significantly impacting people’s opinion of him. It’s a ‘what have you done for me lately’ and with Drew, it’s been a lot of nothing. Fans already think he’s a bust, a bum and not worth his contract. If his struggles continue for ’11, then it will be nearly impossible to save the public perception of his tenure in Boston.

Some of the things that Drew is great at do not show up in the box scores. And yes, I know people don’t like hear that, but baseball is more than just team-contextual stats regardless of what Steve Berthiaume would want you to believe.

Running the bases, keeping runners from advancing, working opposing pitchers, driving up pitch counts and patrolling right field at Fenway. These all can be measured, but how often are they presented to a mass audience?

Rarely.

If NESN doesn’t show the numbers on the screen when a player comes to bat, then many fans will never know of it. And if you try to explain beynd the box scores, many blow it off as baseball-nerd metrics.

Matthew Carruth from Fangraphs has put together (albeit a small sample size) a ranking of hitters in MLB for 2011 he defines as ‘battlers’. These are guys when given a two-strike count, how often did they keep the plate appearance alive?

Well worth reading (ignore the troll commentary) and it gives a new perspective on things we often take for granted. You can view the spreadsheet HERE

The concept is an interesting one. And although not a perfect metric, it does show and re-emphasize the point that Drew does a lot of things that the front office and baseball operations can quantify and value that the average fan cannot. Currently, Drew is ranked 4th in MLB in these two-strike situations with a ‘prolonging ratio’ of 2.01.

Worth $14 million for that? Certainly not but it’s just another ‘real’ baseball measure and contribution that goes unnoticed.

When I think of JD Drew, I don’t think of what I wish he was. I think of what he has done since 2007.

Let us not forget Game 2 of the 2008 ALDS when Drew hit a two-run HR to win the game. Or Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS where he had two clutch hits against the Rays. Or even June 2008 when Ortiz went on the the disabled list and Drew carried the Red Sox offense.

He also tore it up in August and September 2009 to help the Sox reach the playoffs. Tore. it. up.


And let’s not forget the *clutch* grand slam in the 2007 ALCS

Saying that Drew is a bum, not worth the contract, or Theo’s worst signing is flat-out wrong. In the time he has been a Red Sox and coming into 2011, Drew has earned $58.6 million. That equates to $14.6 million per year.

Maybe he isn’t what you wanted him to be, but he is worth everything they gave him.

Here’s to hoping to one last hurrah from JD Drew in 2011. Even if they still want to hate him.

Categories: 2007 ALCS 2007 ALDS 2007 World Series 2008 ALDS Atlanta Braves Boston Red Sox J.D. Drew Scott Boras Theo Epstein Trot Nixon

4 Responses to “Oh JD Drew, How They Hate You” Subscribe

  1. Izzy June 5, 2011 at 6:03 PM #

    The more people hate on him the more I love him. Not too many people could have Larry Doby as their most comparable player and be thought of as a worse player than Frenchy.

  2. Mr Punch June 6, 2011 at 6:49 AM #

    Counting stats are what count. Without them, good rate stats are just indications of future promise – like "tools." Drew has been a decent player for the Sox, but he's nevertheless a perpetual disappointment, the proverbial "man with a great future behind him." Like Payton, he's an instance of the Sox FO's obsession with 31-year-old outfielders supposedly poised for a breakout. (I hope that's over.)

  3. Stacy June 6, 2011 at 11:25 PM #

    Totally agree with you and Izzy here. Unfortunately its hard to quantify how well he plays his corner. People also complain that he isn't a dirt dog simply because he doesn't dive to catch balls in the OF. He gets a fantastic jump because he reads hitters so well. He doesn't HAVE to dive. I feel far more confident with him in RF than I ever did with Trot or with Jacoby in CF. He's been extremely consistent with his offensive numbers in his first 4 years in Boston. $90 million was the going rate for free agents at the time. No one should blame a player for how much he makes. Blame management for paying them.

    • darryljohnston June 7, 2011 at 9:22 AM #

      Nice stated, Stacy. Great point on the contracts being handed out that year as well.