On October 20th at Fenway Park under the bright lights, he found redemption.
All year, he struggled to find a niche in his new home, with fans already against him being there. It was a long, taxing year for him personally as his son struggled through a malady of issues.
Despite that, he was at the plate, his team’s back to the wall with a rich opportunity to strike, to send the Red Sox one game closer to the World Series.
I was there, and when J.D. Drew launched the white ball into orbit, Fenway fell apart. It is a very special moment in Fenway when the crowd roars its heart out for seemingly “ever” and when all predispositions to not interacting with strangers melt away and you find no shame in pounding the hands of people you will never meet again and exulting in joy together.
It is easily one of my all-time favorite Red Sox moments, and I have been privileged to be at many of them: “The Steal” being the penultimate moment and the awe I felt with the amount of flashbulbs that popped when Daisuke Matsuzaka stepped onto the Fenway mound and faced Ichiro.
I’m here to tell you that J.D. Drew will be better than ever in 2008.
How could he not be? Free of the pressures of adapting to a new home, the medical woes of his son and trying to win a World Series for a historically-challenged team? He’s done it all, and he did it all in the same year.
Drew appeared in 140 games, hitting .270/.373/.423, a far cry from his career line of .284/.390/.500. There were times he looked like the J.D. Drew we thought we were signing — most notably during interleague play and in September — and there were times where it looked like he was taking hitting lessons from Julio Lugo.
The 2008 Red Sox ZiPS Projections are not kind to Drew, projecting him at .259/.362/.412. ZiPS is a computer-based simulation model that hits on some players and misses on some others (like every projection model).
There’s a place for projections, to be sure, but to take them as fact or near-fact is to undersell the sport as a whole. What I dislike about these projections is that they rest on simply statistics. Not comfort, not mental health, nothing like that. Strictly numbers. Baseball is easily the best sport to use when it comes to statistics, but there’s so much more that goes into the sport and relying on just numbers is not a good idea.
Anyways, ZiPS projected J.D. Drew’s 2007 at a striking .266/.385/.461 (caveat: this projection was with Drew in the NL West, calling Dodger Stadium his home). That’s pretty similar to what he turned in with the Red Sox, so maybe there’s some validity to the projections ZiPS comes up with for 2008.
I certainly hope not, because this would easily hurt the Red Sox en route to repeating as World Series champions. This would make Drew a liability, even more so considering his contract. I can’t fathom how Drew could regress when all the mental factors are taken into account. He’s now familiar with the league, his son’s issues are (apparently) in control, and he won Fenway over with his grand slam.
Could he hit .259/.362/.412? Sure, but I’m not seeing it.
Other ZiPS Projections for the Red Sox:
CF Jacoby Ellsbury: .297/.349/.392 with 43 steals
2B Dustin Pedroia: .292/.359/.431
DH David Ortiz: .297/.400/.593 with 44 HR
LF Manny Ramirez: .278/.381/.493 with 23 homers (ZiPS whiffed badly last year and projected Manny to have a 1.008 OPS. He had an .881 OPS).
RF J.D. Drew
1B Kevin Youkilis: .286/.388/.444
3B Mike Lowell: .272/.333/.429 (Sean O is validated!)
C Jason Varitek: .249/.350/.408
SS Julio Lugo: .267/.335/.382
C Doug Mirabelli: .246/.318/.355
IF Alex Cora: .241/.311/.330
OF Coco Crisp: 271/.333/.410
1B/OF Brandon Moss: .264/.334/.424
Jed Lowrie: .253/.326/.406
Chris Carter: .278/.339/.438
Reaction: This offense won’t get us into the playoffs.
SP Josh Beckett: 16-9, 3.77 ERA, 191.0 IP, 172 K, 54 BB, 30 GS
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka: 15-10, 3.95 ERA, 196.0 IP, 177 K, 60 BB, 29 G, 28 GS
SP Curt Schilling: 11-10, 4.25 ERA, 178.0 IP, 146 K, 26 BB, 20 GS
SP Tim Wakefield: 13-13, 4.62 ERA, 185.0 IP, 117 K, 65 BB
SP Jon Lester: 8-8, 4.93 ERA, 148.0 IP, 100 K, 75 BB, 30 G, 29 GS
Bullpen (assuming full-year of playing time… looking at you, Lopez and Snyder!)
CL Jonathan Papelbon: 1.57 ERA, 63.0 IP, 87 K, 15 BB
RP Hideki Okajima: 3.09 ERA, 64.0 IP, 65 K, 18 BB
RP Manny Delcarmen: 3.77 ERA, 74.0 IP, 68 K, 38 BB
RP Mike Timlin: 3.78 ERA, 69.0 IP, 40 K, 19 BB
RP Javier Lopez: 4.19 ERA, 58.0 IP, 36 K, 27 BB
RP Kyle Snyder: 4.50 ERA, 66.0 IP, 48 K, 23 BB
RP Julian Tavarez: 4.71 ERA, 109.0 IP, 64 K, 41 BB, 53 G, 12 GS
Notable (assuming full-year of playing time)
SP Clay Buchholz: 9-8, 4.47 ERA, 135.0 IP, 120 K, 53 BB, 28 G, 27 GS
RP Craig Hansen: 5.03 ERA, 68.0 IP, 45 K, 42 BB
RP Brendan Donnelly: 4.20 ERA, 45.0 IP, 36 K, 16 BB
RP Bryan Corey: 4.32 ERA, 73.0 IP, 55 K, 26 BB
RP Craig Breslow: 4.44 ERA, 77.0 IP, 58 K, 33 BB
Reaction: Pretty good pitching staff, I must say. If our offense really does perform like this, it will be this staff that gives us a shot at making the playoffs.
Now that we’ve looked at the projections for the players, what do you think? Who’s given too much rope? Who has too little? Who’s juuuuust right?
On Monday: My suggested courses of action for the Red Sox.
Note: Help support a fellow Red Sox blogger, Joy of Sox and vote for them in the 2007 Canadian Blog Awards!