Speaking on WEEI, Epstein went into detail about how important Drew has been for the Red Sox.
"From a straight objective standpoint, what he contributes offensively and what he contributes defensively, and add in baserunning, so it’s the total value of the player, on a rate basis he was outstanding, and there aren’t too many outfielders who compare to what he did," said Epstein, who who acquired Drew as a free agent in 2007.
Epstein added that the 33-year-old right fielder has met or exceeded the expectations typical of a $14 million player, despite public perception.
"There [are] labels that tend to happen," Epstein said. "People who don’t like Drew will call him uncaring or apathetic or aloof. People who like him will say he has ice in his veins. Then these narratives may or may not even be true, so people who don’t like a player like that will say, ‘He doesn’t care. He doesn’t come through in the clutch.’ They just start these broad labels that aren’t necessarily true.
"Can you think of a hitter who has had more big hits, more big home runs for us the in the postseason in the last three seasons than Drew? He has more postseason RBIs the past three years than any player that we have. So this narrative sort of takes a life of its own, and it’s not always true."
The numbers — as usual — back up Epstein's claim. Drew has driven in 19 runs in 28 postseason games since 2007, none larger than his ALCS Game 6 grand slam against the Indians. His two-run missile in Game 3 of this year's ALDS was forgotten in an otherwise disappointing series.
In the same postseason span, Dustin Pedroia drove in 18 runs, Kevin Youkilis drove in 17, Mike Lowell drove in 16 and David Ortiz plated 15 runs.
The team's offensive struggles this postseason were as much a mystery to Epstein as anyone else.
"If you would have told us … [a number of] things went right and we won 95 games, I would say, ‘Let’s go, let’s start the playoffs tomorrow.’ I just feel like we didn’t show up in those three games," Epstein explained. "It wasn’t like we weren’t a team without any issues whatsoever. We had our issues, and they manifested and cost us a little bit. We went through mysterious and frustrating stretches where we didn’t hit at all on the road. That happens."