At this point, we’ve heard it all: He’s too stoic and he doesn’t care, he sits out too many games with injuries and he gets paid too much (although if someone offered you more money, would you decline?).
But here’s the truth about J.D. Drew. Giving a player $14 million and then seeing him fail to surpass a .280 batting average since coming to Boston is sometimes hard to swallow, but given the current state of Boston’s ravaged outfield, having a little bit of veteran presence in the mix is nothing to complain about.
And despite the fact that fans — no matter where he goes — tend to claim that he underperforms, Drew has been a relatively reliable hitter throughout the course of his career. Since 2003, in fact, he has never hit below .270. Yes, you want to assume that if you’re paying a guy that much money, he’ll come a bit closer to the .300-mark, but aside from his second year in the big leagues, he’s never had a complete nosedive season.
On top of that, Drew is a disciplined hitter who has averaged a .385 on-base percentage throughout his time with the Red Sox. He walks a lot, he can get on base, and while his power numbers were expected to be a bit more exciting, they haven’t been terrible. In three full seasons with Boston, Drew has averaged 18 homers and 65 RBIs.
Plus, he’s not terribly un-clutch. Everyone remembers the $14 million grand slam heard ’round the world, and while Drew is no David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez, he’ll never be Wily Mo Pena in the eyes of opposing pitchers, either.
Batting average aside, Drew has been remarkably consistent in what can be a challenging Fenway outfield. True, the occasional line-drive home run has sailed over his head and into the bullpen, but generally, Drew has been a solid defender with a solid arm.
Drew has always been victimized by the fact that coming out of Florida State, he was heralded as one of the most talented five-tool players scouts had seen in recent memory. He may not have lived up to immense expectations, but he’s been far from futile throughout the course of his career. He’s never been known for his fast starts — he boasts a career average of .270 in March and April — but he heats up in May in June. In fact, from March/April to June, his career average jumps from .270 to .293.
Prior to Monday’s game against Toronto, Drew sported a .180 average with two homers and nine RBIs. Is it too late to expect him to rebound in time to contribute substantially to this club? Or is too early to count him out?
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