General Red Sox


The headline: "Money player"

The subhead: "Why the critics of J.D. Drew may be off-base"

The paper: The Boston Sunday Globe

The writer: Amalie Benjamin (of course)

He does not get the same admiration as his predecessor in right field, Trot Nixon, a man who fit the Boston mold. He is not a dirty-uniform player, a hustle guy, a guy who demonstrates much emotion at all. He is not likely to hit .300 or drive in 100 runs. Yet those around the game, including his employers, are hardly concerned with that. They prefer to concentrate on what he is: one of the better all-around outfielders in the game, and one of the best at getting on base.

Do you think Tony Massarotti understood a word of it? Probably not. Heck, he may have written the first comment:

Never hits over 300, never hits over 30 HR, never has over 100 RBIS. This is not one of the best OF in the games because he takes alot of walks and gets on base. Just an average player and thats all.

25 replies on “Floored.”

Yep, looks like there’s a difference of opinion there. Both cite the same facts but come to different conclusions. This is really that huge a deal?

Well, the anonymous commenter disagreeing with the GM of the Red Sox doesn’t really concern me (especially given that his “facts” are technically incorrect, never mind the ridiculous premise that someone who hits .299 with 29 homers and 99 RBI would apparently be “average” to him/her). Frankly, neither does Tony Massarotti disagreeing with anything (he disagrees with everything) concern me; he’s a comical shadow of his former self at this point.
My main point was to register my shock with an actual story in an actual mainstream Boston newspaper praising J.D. Drew as “one of the better all-around outfielders in the game.” Thus the subject and the bolded phrase.

i just think it’s the wrong argument paul…most people who can get past his lack of a personality, and can focus on the more modern view of assessing a player’s value recognize that drew is a very good ballplayer…i think the argument is really whether or not he is an underachiever…could he even be more than he is, and has he simply settled for being “one of the better all around outfielders in the game”…who knows, he might have piled up more of the counting stats if he ever played a full season…

could he even be more than he is, and has he simply settled for being “one of the better all around outfielders in the game”
I know. Just look at Drew and you can tell he is in awful physical shape, a pantload. And he obviously doesn’t try.

dc, my guess is that most people do not correctly appreciate or understand the contribution Drew makes on the baseball field. The type of player he is, someone who does a lot of things well, but does get big hr or rbi numbers, is going to be underrated. But the interesting thing about your point is that it’s possible to see Drew as a minor disappointment given his reputation coming out of college. He was an uber prospect, probably on the level of A-Rod. So his career, which has been fine, hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations, but not necessarily because of lack of desire (although fanbases and even coaches such as Tony LaRussa have questioned that part of his game) but because of lack of durability.

Drew wasn’t on the level of A-Rod. I say this because I was playing rotisserie baseball at the time that both were prospects. A-Rod was THE prize in our minor league draft (we got him by virtue of missing the money pool by one spot, fifth place got the #1 minor league pick). A-Rod was, at least in my recollection of following baseball for 3+ decades, perhaps the most highly prized prospect I can remember. Drew was certainly highly regarded as can’t miss (and he hasn’t missed, right?), but I think Drew also was given no help by his own choice of agent and the way that he and Boras conspired to manipulate the process at the time he was eligible. Nitpicking, I know, but A-Rod and Drew were two different animals, future potential-wise.

okay, maybe an overstatement, but only a little one (I think). Drew was and maybe is still considered the best college player ever. Or is in the discussion. That is not hyperbole, crazy as it sounds. Drew was a huge prospect. He’s had a decent career that hasn’t quite matched the hype. He also got very bad press early on in his career because of the whole Boras-Phils conflict. I think you add that to the type of player he is, which is someone who is going to be underrated anyway, and there is going to be a feeling of disappointment that will follow him around.

Like I said, probably nitpicking, but still there was a difference between the two. I agree that all of the things surrounding Drew contribute to the sense that he is “underachieving”, but the fact is that he was a “can’t miss” prospect, and he’s certainly not missed in the slightest, whatever people might pin on him. Just look at the 1997 first round – it’s a pretty good first round all things considered (Drew, Berkman, Werth, Wells, Garland, Kennedy, Glaus), but the rest of the lot aren’t really notable in any way. That’s seven out of 31 who are/have been regulars, one of whom is majorly tainted by steroid use, a couple of late bloomers (add in Jack Cust to that one, a one-dimensional player), and Drew may be the best player to come out of that first round.
In 1998 in the first round there was Drew (again), Carlos Pena (late bloomer), Mulder, Pat Burrell, Jeff Weaver. Drew has conceivably been the best position player from that first round, too.

just to clarify…i didn’t say i agreed with the point of view i offered up…it’s just my opinion of what may be the mindset of drew detractors…take high [somewhat unfulfilled] expectations, a muted personality in a career where enthusiasm is considered an asset, lack of appreciation for the less traditional methods of player evaluation, and you get drew…he’s no arod, but he was compared to a young mickey mantle…
“…I know. Just look at Drew and you can tell he is in awful physical shape, a pantload. And he obviously doesn’t try. …”
i don’t think that’s the point either…he is in good shape and i believe he puts in maximum effort, but that’s just me…i can’t speak for the crowd that believes he’s soft…

I wasn’t following all that closely when Drew came up, so I don’t know what hype he got, but Nick’s point is not the first time I’ve heard that the hype surrounding him was huge, and it’s not hard to see how Drew’s early-career chronic knee injury would have really hurt his reputation.
The thing is, if Drew were a healthier player, he probably would have exceeded any reasonable expectations for his career — yet still been underrated because of his general style and personality/
One of my new favorite stat toys is Sean Smith’s historical WAR numbers over at Here are the top 500 hitters of all time. Drew ranks 229th, and remember WAR adjusts for playing time. He is surrounded by borderline guys — HOFers below him, non-HOFers above him. He has another two years on his contract and seems likely to add at least 10 WAR to his total, barring a career-ending injury. That would push him into an area where he would be surrounded by members of the halls of Fame and Merit. But I would be surprised if he hits 5 percent on the ballot whenever he becomes eligible.
Even with the injuries, WAR puts Drew as a borderline Hall of Famer (a poor choice, but not the worst choice) right now. I think that shows the depth to which his style of play has been significantly underrated by writers and fans alike. He’s really this generation’s Dwight Evans, who also was underrated throughout his career because of a slow/rocky start and the OBP/defense-based nature of his game.

Paul – how the hell does WAR calculate the defensive statistics for old-timers? It’s a very suspect statistic that relies far too heavily on very suspect defensive statistics.
The only reason Drew would ever be considered for the Hall of Fame is because guys like Jim Rice and Kirby Puckett are in it.
Drew is under-rated, but let’s not go overboard. He simply doesn’t play enough, and that’s where most of his criticism, I think, rightly comes into play. That’s not his fault in the slightest – he just doesn’t really have that one very important skill – health.

he only reason Drew would ever be considered for the Hall of Fame is because guys like Jim Rice and Kirby Puckett are in it.
So the only reason Drew would ever be considered for the Hall of Fame is because he’s better than guys who are already in the Hall of Fame? That’s kind of my point.
Except my point is actually that Drew will never be considered for the Hall of Fame, and that he would be a poor choice for the Hall of Fame, but that he obviously should be considered, even if he’s ultimately found wanting, because he’s better than guys who are already there.
how the hell does WAR calculate the defensive statistics for old-timers?
I think the site explains how they determine defense for the old guys. It’s obviously not exact, but I don’t think it’s any less exact than going off old-timers’ memories and the number of Gold Gloves they won.
It’s a very suspect statistic that relies far too heavily on very suspect defensive statistics.
I know this is your opinion, but it’s frankly not shared by a lot of people who know a whole lot more about baseball statistics then either you or I do.

Sorry, but weighing defensive statistics based off of hearsay (which is what they’re doing with pretty much everyone outside this past decade) is just absolutely stupid. Take defensive stats out of the equation (which are still incredibly suspect to this day. Wait for Hit F/X, and the other F/X’s, until then, they’re simply not good enough to include in layman evaluations of players), and we can talk. I know it’s not exactly fair to Drew, who gets a lot of his extra value through his very good defense, but it’s hardly fair to anyone else to weigh defensive stats so heavily when the entire history of defensive statistics is so awful.

Again, I would look at what Smith himself says, as he’s very good at what he does. He does use data and extrapolates from that, so it’s not hearsay, per se, but it’s obviously not as good as reliable data, and I don’t think anyone is arguing that it is.
But it also doesn’t take much of an argument to say that Drew has already amassed more value than Jim Rice or Phil Rizzuto, whether we use WAR or just our own common sense thinking about it. And that’s really my point: He’s been a very good player for a long time, and it’s nice to see the Globe finally give him some love.

but is he as good as he could have been?…i guess we could say that about every player that suits up for only 75-80% of his team’s games…

As good as he could have been if what? If he played 162 games every season for 15 years? Sure, he would have been better than he is. If he had a different personality? If he stole more bases, or hit more homers, or if he hadn’t monkeyed around with the draft, or if he hadn’t opted out and stayed in the NL? If his son hadn’t cost him a year or more of his emotional life?
I don’t know what the question means (honestly, I don’t, I am not trying to be argumentative here). I don’t know how you make a determination about what “could have been” with a player who is already damn good and who has had numerous things to deal with in his career, from injury to family nightmares, etc. We can always say “what if that player hadn’t gotten hurt”, but players get hurt because of who they are and what they do, play a physical sport at elite levels, run into walls, slide into bases, sprint and stop, etc. etc. The rare players don’t ever get hurt, and Drew is obviously not that rare player.

“I am not trying to be argumentative here” …and neither was i
i’ve already said that i basically agree with paul’s assessment of drew’s value to the sox…i was only attempting to get into the heads of the drew detractors, who sorry to say, have a point…failure to live up to lofty expectations, while unfair, is how many major leaguers are judged…on top of that, his detractors don’t see him as a “running into walls” kind of guy, and they choose to discount [right or wrong] his value by the amount of time he’s actually on the field displaying that value…i say that’s a valid argument…

failure to live up to lofty expectations
He was a first round draft pick who has exceeded the performances of probably 90-95% of positional first rounders. Some people need to adjust their expectations…
on top of that, his detractors don’t see him as a “running into walls” kind of guy
That’s because, unlike Jim Edmonds, he doesn’t slow up so he can run into the wall and make things more dramatic. No-Drama JD!

Really, the reason J.D. doesn’t run into walls or dive for balls or what have you is that his range is good enough that he doesn’t need to. It’s why the Gold Gloves are considered a joke among knowledgeable fans — the players who make flashy plays get the hardware, even though better defenders are making them as a matter of routine. The man is putting up terrific defensive numbers in one of the hardest right fields in baseball.

Yep. You hardly ever see Carlos Beltran dive for something. It’s the reason, in part, I think they moved Jacoby to LF. Yeah, he makes a lot of plays that his speed allows him to make, but a better or more experienced CF gets there on his feet.

we agree…the detractors need to get at least one foot on board…by “running into walls” i meant that they see him as soft…and i don’t know how he stacks against the other greats, but i’d guess that they spend more time actually playing…that seems to be the biggest [again perhaps unfair] criticism of him…

I think the playing time thing is a fair observation when looking at Drew’s contributions. But I am not sure it can or should be used to denigrate or critique him unless he has done something questionable conditioning-wise to exacerbate or invite injury. For one thing, it isn’t like JD has the body of Rick Reuschel. He seems to take care of himself. Could just be physiology, in which case it is merely bad luck, not rising to the level of deserving criticism. If JD were out of shape, lazy, then fair game.

that’s right…some of us just don’t have bodies that are very forgiving when we overextend them…he probably falls into that category…as for the personality thing, it seems like they’re saying if only he had nick swisher’s personality he’d be complete… ;)

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