Sounds Like a Job for…

It's been refreshing over the past few years to read the collective work of Amelie Benjamin and Adam Kilgore in the Boston Globe. The two writers have covered the Red Sox well, and their youth has proven beneficial, as they've both incorporated more comprehensive statistics into their analysis and reporting than, say, Nick Cafardo. Kilgore especially has even included OPS+, ERA+ and UZR in his stories for Web and print, while both liberally use WHIP and OPS, stats that some baseball writers still ignore or downright disdain.

That makes this morning's story by Benjamin about J.D. Drew all the more disappointing. The story as a whole is good enough, and certainly worth writing given Drew's just-completed month of August. Yet it seems a Drew defender's work is never done.


In the story's opening paragraph, Benjamin throws this out there:

The contributions from J.D. Drew can be measured in months. A month here, a month there, not nearly enough to add up to $14 million per year, yet tantalizing enough to see how a general manager couldn’t resist the temptation.

This happens all the time, largely because many people forget that Drew is not a designated hitter. He fields his position well, and not for nothing, his home ballpark is one of the toughest places in baseball in which to field that position. His UZR/150 this year is 13.6. Last year, it was 12.9. It was a career-low -2.4 in 2007, a figure that was 1. not that bad, and 2. clearly anomalous.

So should we be surprised, then, that Fangraphs lists Drew's value as $15.8 million so far this year? For those keeping track, that is actually more than $14 million. Last year, despite missing a month of the season, he was still worth $18.6 million. Also more than $14 million. In 2007, when off-field concerns affected on-field performance, he was worth just $5.5 million. Add them up, and Drew's been worth $39.9 million to the Red Sox, an average of $13.3 million per year — $700,000 short of his salary.

In other words, pretty darn near to $14 million per year. Certainly not "not nearly enough."

Not only is Drew's defense overlooked, but so is his offense, as is clear later in the story, when Benjamin continues the "few good months" theme:

But, all in all, the numbers are stark. Drew has hit at least .300 in just four of his 17 months with the Red Sox during the regular season. He has hit less than .240 in five of those months. Even his hot August has brought up his average this season to just .265, with 18 homers and 53 RBIs.

It is incredibly disappointing to see a writer as seemingly knowledgeable about statistics as Benjamin write garbage like this. A comparable paragraph would criticize Kevin Youkilis for not stealing 20 bases a season, or Jacoby Ellsbury for not hitting 15 home runs a year. Drew is an excellent hitter, but his strength doesn't lie in hitting .300; it lies in his amazing plate discipline. In his 10 full seasons (including this one), Drew has hit .300 twice. The Red Sox were not purchasing a .300 hitter. His career average is only .282.

But his career on-base percentage is .391. He has reached base at least 37 percent (a figure just as arbitrary as a .300 batting average) of the time — 25 points higher than the league average during his time in Boston — 10 times in those 17 months. Among those five months in which he batted lower than .240, Drew still reached base at a league-average or better clip twice. By my count, Drew has had a truly terrible month — below .700 OPS – four times in Boston.

He is a .282 career hitter with the potential to be better, to blossom at any time. Building off last month, this September could be brilliant. Or it could not. With Drew, it’s often hard to tell.

Well, yes. Those are the two options for basically every player: Brilliant. Or not. And given our inability to see the future, it is indeed hard to tell which it will be. But there are probabilities.

Acknowledging the arbitrariness of splitting a season into 30-day increments based solely on the calendar (which has little to do with anything over the course of the baseball season), Drew's 17 months break down this way:

  • 1.000+ — 3
  • .900-.999 — 2
  • .850-.899 — 0
  • .800-.849 — 4
  • .750-.799 — 4
  • .700-.749 — 0
  • <.700 — 4

That says to me that Drew has had an .800 OPS or better 52.9 percent of the time in Boston. League-average OPS has varied between .780 and .790 in that time. Three additional times, Drew has had an OPS of .780 or better — meaning he has been average or above average more than 70 percent of the time.

This leads me to believe that the chances are pretty good that J.D. Drew will be above average this September — as he has been the vast majority of his Red Sox career. Based on his value over the past two seasons, he'll even be worth more than the Sox are paying him.

80 comments… add one

  • So in 12 out of 17 months, they’ve gotten sub-.850 OPS offense from Nancy, and that’s acceptable? For a RF?
    Benjamin nails it. Drew has always been streaky and nothing has changed. Except now he’s just getting paid more to do less.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 11:18 am
  • Sure sure, but does all this explain the emotionally taxing stretches where we’d rather see a hatrack up to bat, in a meaningful situation, than J.D. Drew? Since RS fans are inherently emotional beings, I’ll say no. Bottom line, which is clear to anyone, is that Drew is streaky. Which streak will come in September? That’s what remains to be seen.

    jwright40 September 1, 2009, 11:22 am
  • So in 12 out of 17 months, they’ve gotten sub-.850 OPS offense from Nancy, and that’s acceptable? For a RF?
    Number of AL teams receiving better than .850 OPS from right field this season: Three. Average OPS from right field this season: .790.
    American League team No. 1 in production out of right field this season: The Boston Red Sox.

    Paul SF September 1, 2009, 11:40 am
  • clearly Bob Ryan was ghost writting for her in this column!

    dw (sf) September 1, 2009, 11:41 am
  • Of course it must be damn frustrating to see a RF post almost as many months below .700 OPS as above .900 OPS.
    What’s the average salary of AL rightfielders?

    James YF September 1, 2009, 11:48 am
  • That says to me that Drew has had an .800 OPS or better 52.9 percent of the time in Boston.
    To put it another way, if I told you prior to the contract that Nancy would put up a sub-.800 OPS for 47% of his Sox career, you would have eagerly signed up? Or signed up at all?

    James YF September 1, 2009, 11:51 am
  • does all this explain the emotionally taxing stretches where we’d rather see a hatrack up to bat, in a meaningful situation, than J.D. Drew?
    As opposed to the stretches where we’d rather have seen a hatrack at the plate instead of Jason Bay? David Ortiz? Kevin Youkilis? Dustin Pedroia?
    I would argue that the slumps Bay and Ortiz went through were not only longer than Drew’s slump this season, but were far more emotionally taxing and far more damaging to the Sox’ lineup as a whole.

    Paul SF September 1, 2009, 11:54 am
  • if I told you prior to the contract that Nancy would put up a sub-.800 OPS for 47% of his Sox career, you would have eagerly signed up?
    I would have questioned the relevance of the data. For example, one of those months — July 2009 — is dragged down by 16 bad games, with an OPS of over 1.200 in the remaining four.
    Splitting data into random 30-day periods is not a constructive way to assess value. Unfortunately, it was the method chosen by the Globe, and so it was a battle I fought using their terms.
    If you had told me he’d be worth well more than his contract in two of his three seasons, hit three big postseason home runs, be above average in all facets of his game, while missing just one full month with injuries, then I would have been very happy.
    Guess what? I’m very happy.

    Paul SF September 1, 2009, 12:03 pm
  • Let me be clear:
    I am not saying there isn’t a debate to be had about the value of JD Drew. Many smart fans believe he hasn’t been worth it because of the streakiness, the injuries, and the fact that he’s not getting any younger with two more years left on the contract. I disagree with those arguments, but they’re good arguments.
    I take major issues with people saying he’s “not even close” to being worth the money, when all objective data indicate that he is in fact at least close, if not much more valuable.
    Likewise, we seem to be forgetting that he was a free agent signing — something that is generally a knowing overpay (usually at the back end of the contract). You offset overpaying for free agents by developing as many young stars as you can and vastly underpaying them. The fact that Drew is, if anything, only a slight overpay should be considered a successful signing so far, yet because he doesn’t hit for .300, hit 30 home runs or make spectacular diving plays — or scream at umpires, admire his home runs or slam his helmet after striking out — his many talents are largely downplayed or ignored. That is really a shame because J.D. Drew is a very, very good ballplayer.

    Paul SF September 1, 2009, 12:09 pm
  • From this post you don’t seem happy. I’m still unsure what the point is, though. You come to the exact same conclusion as Benjamin. And you’re just as arbitrary with your stats in doing so.
    A month is “dragged down” by 16 bad games. That sentence should tell you everything about how you’re also overinterpreting selectively chosen small samples. You’re just choosing different ones.
    Drew is very streaky, to the team’s detriment. I don’t see what the contrary argument is.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 12:11 pm
  • Drew is very streaky, to the team’s detriment. I don’t see what the contrary argument is.
    Then I can only conclude you are being intentionally antagonistic and willfully obtuse. The contrary argument is that Drew’s streakiness is irrelevant because he has been an extremely valuable player who has been worth his contract as a member of the Red Sox.
    There is no sane argument in which a 120 OPS+ in 1,500 plate appearances is to a team’s detriment.

    Paul SF September 1, 2009, 12:16 pm
  • That is really a shame because J.D. Drew is a very, very good ballplayer.
    And that’s why he’ll get another contract even as none of his former teams nor their fans have been sad to see him go.
    It’s almost as if you’re saying Nancy is underrated. That’s very hard to believe, given his salary and contract.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 12:17 pm
  • There is no sane argument in which a 120 OPS+ in 1,500 plate appearances is to a team’s detriment.
    How about the argument that says they could have gotten the same “production” for significantly less money?
    We also still have two more years to judge Nancy. You’re going to be fighting a losing battle over those two years since it’s hard to see how, given his history and age, Drew doesn’t trend worse – in production and in playing time.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 12:25 pm
  • I don’t think it’s really fair to call her analysis “garbage” because she didn’t consult an obscure stat like WAR. And I don’t know how they calculate it, but I find it hard to believe that a RF who hits 20 HRs is worth $18 million on account of his defense and solid OBP.
    I do disagree that he’s “not even close,” but for $14 million I think it’s reasonable to expect some consistency and power from a corner OF.

    Brownie SF September 1, 2009, 12:26 pm
  • Wow, the “Fuck Drew!” brigade really came out in full-force today.
    Number of AL teams receiving better than .850 OPS from right field this season: Three. Average OPS from right field this season: .790.
    American League team No. 1 in production out of right field this season: The Boston Red Sox.

    This is all that matters to me. I’m pleased with Drew, though he’s painful to watch sometimes.

    Atheose September 1, 2009, 12:56 pm
  • I don’t think it’s really fair to call her analysis “garbage” because she didn’t consult an obscure stat like WAR.
    Well she states that Drew’s contributions don’t add up to the 14 mil a year he’s being paid. If she’s going to make a claim like that she should at least have data to back it up, rather than subjectively calling his effort “not nearly enough”.
    I’d be willing to wager that this was an article she was told to write, as opposed to something she pursued proactively. She’s usually a supporter of Drew when most people throw him under the bus.

    Atheose September 1, 2009, 1:02 pm
  • Paul, maybe I’m parsing too carefully, but are you drawing a distinction between OPS and “production” in the quote Ath highlighted?
    I’m generally a Drew defender, but that’s usually because of the low quality of the attacks on Drew than the high quality of Drew’s play. You were right to say that
    “Splitting data into random 30-day periods is not a constructive way to assess value,” so I don’t really know why you bothered to respond on that terrain. You just get stuck saying things like Drew’s July was “dragged down by 16 bad games, with an OPS of over 1.200 in the remaining four” which are deeply silly (if not meant to be tongue-in-cheek).

    stuck working September 1, 2009, 1:07 pm
  • I’m using production as a stand-in for OPS, SW, so it doesn’t get all alphabet soupy. Given Drew’s defense seems to be well above average, I feel it’s safe to use “production” in the general sense, as opposed to specifying one side of the ball or the other.
    The fact is that Drew’s OPS was hurt by 16 poor games, which is usually a little more than half a month. Unfortunately for him (and for my argument, in this case) he was injured for about 10 games in that month, so that wasn’t a particularly good example. Even so, the argument I was making in that case was that month-by-month data in some cases obscures the ebbs and flows of the season and in other cases unfairly enhances them. They also ignore real causes for the data by ascribing a causation based solely on the calendar (e.g., did Drew go into a slump because it was July 1, or because he was pushed into the leadoff spot?).
    My point in the main post was that even under the flawed month-by-month basis Amelie was using to critique Drew’s performance in Boston, the numbers actually show him to be much better.

    Paul SF September 1, 2009, 1:28 pm
  • I don’t find Drew any more painful to watch than a lot of the other guys on the team. A slump is a slump and it’s never pretty. What I really like about having him on the team is that I never have to tell my 9 year old, “If you behave like that during Little League, I will take you out of the game immediately.” Never.

    rootbeerfloat September 1, 2009, 1:48 pm
  • Drew’s facial expressions bother me, since there aren’t any. Hence he isn’t worth the money they are paying him. If he exercised his cheek and lower facial muscles, I might buy into his value.
    Also, he goes by two initials, not a regular name. What a dick.

    SF September 1, 2009, 2:23 pm
  • “Also, he goes by two initials, not a regular name. What a dick.”
    I LOL’d.
    I might add that he REVERSES his first and middle initials. The c*ck.
    Actually, I really like that he doesn’t have any music play when he comes up to bat. Philosophical statement about baseball or more proof he’s a robot? You decide.

    Devine September 1, 2009, 2:36 pm
  • It is curious how Boras clients end up with reputations and corresponding criticism that are outside of the analysis of their accomplishments on the field.
    Smells.

    attackgerbil September 1, 2009, 2:42 pm
  • If you look at Drew’s three years in Boston, 2007-2009 you can see that Swishalishious actually out-performed him 2 of those 3 years (at least so far in 2009). Yet he costs approx. 1/3 the price. He’s not as good a defender but is that really worth an extra 200% or $10 million a year? And I believe everyone admits Swish is a better presence in the clubhouse, no?
    Paul what’s the site that you get your player values from? I’d like to see what some other players are supposedly worth.

    Joe September 1, 2009, 3:13 pm
  • Fangraphs.com, Joe.
    Nick Swisher was not a free agent after the 2006 season, which is when the Sox were needing to acquire a right fielder.

    Paul SF September 1, 2009, 3:18 pm
  • And I believe everyone admits Swish is a better presence in the clubhouse, no?
    I do. I think JD Drew is the root of all evil. He’s certainly the reason the Sox haven’t won jack shit since 2007, when he signed. If it weren’t for JD, the Sox would probably have won a series, or gone to an ALCS, or done SOMETHING of note these last couple of years.
    Like I said before: Dick. Oh, and a dick with cancer, clubhouse style, too.

    SF September 1, 2009, 3:36 pm
  • Seems like that 2007 team had some other players and big personalities on it.

    Joe September 1, 2009, 4:06 pm
  • Looking at those fangraph values, they seem a bit high. Last year they had Pujols worth $40 million and Utley at $36 million. Pedroia was right around $30 million. Are you telling me that when Pedroia signed his contract extension after his MVP season, he was leaving $23 million a year on the table?
    (Yes, I realize that Pedroia wasn’t a free agent when he signed that contract. But does anyone really think the Pedroia is anywhere near a $30 million a year player?)

    Brownie SF September 1, 2009, 4:07 pm
  • Seems like that 2007 team had some other players and big personalities on it.
    And none bigger (or smaller, I suppose) than JD “fucking clubhouse cancer” Drew.
    I will sleep only after they rename him J “DFA” Drew.

    SF September 1, 2009, 4:11 pm
  • in case people have forgot….
    2007 game six ALCS
    or
    2008 game 5 ALCS
    now how much would the yanks pay to be involved in games like that…. half a billion? …. more?

    sf rod September 1, 2009, 4:15 pm
  • I’ll let the Fangraphs guys defend their own stat (they’ve done quite a good job at it over there). Regardless, it constitutes at least one objective statistic that says J.D. Drew has been worth far more than he is given credit for in the subjective determination of many/most sports writers.

    Paul SF September 1, 2009, 4:31 pm
  • Agreed sf rod. As far as I’m concerned, Drew could go 0 for the rest of his career in Boston and that one grand slam in 2007 would make it all worth it.

    Atheose September 1, 2009, 4:32 pm
  • Wait so people present good counterarguments and they’re met with infantile babbling?
    What a joke.
    JD Drew is a good baseball player. But there’s no denying that he’s overpriced and extremely streaky. What’s interesting to me is that is Benjamin’s conclusion as well as the one here. So what’s the problem?
    Brownie – fangraphs overvalues defense and position. Defense is at least based on other stats. Position is a blanket adjustment regardless of the player.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 4:35 pm
  • As far as I’m concerned, Drew could go 0 for the rest of his career in Boston and that one grand slam in 2007 would make it all worth it.
    Well, at least no one will mistake you for unbiased.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 4:37 pm
  • the “extremely streaky” label bothers me. I am sure I could use a different set of time intervals and make anyone look streaky. JD just by coincidence has his peaks and dips in a way that lines up badly with the 1st and 30th of some months.

    rootbeerfloat September 1, 2009, 4:42 pm
  • Wait so people present good counterarguments and they’re met with infantile babbling?
    I HEART SWISH!!!!! SWISHALICIOUS!!!!!
    Better?

    SF September 1, 2009, 4:47 pm
  • Drew shows those trends every year. That’s not in my definition of coincidence.
    Months are simply a convenient shorthand for a slice of 80 – 100 at-bats.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 4:48 pm
  • What I want to know is, does the hat help or hurt Jason Bay’s chances of being re-signed?
    http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/specials/bill_brett/august09seen1?pg=3

    I'mBillMcNeal September 1, 2009, 4:48 pm
  • I think J.D. Drew would be criticized much less if he did that jump-throw thingy that Derek Jesus does.
    And it’s not fair to call Drew streaky. He’s just absent-minded. Calling him streaky and unemotional is stereotyping southerners, who are unfairly mocked for doing things at their own pace.

    I'mBillMcNeal September 1, 2009, 4:57 pm
  • james-
    the thing is, many sf’s see jd’s postseason heroics as fiscally unquantifiable. similar to guys like shane spencer, jim leyritz, scott brosius, et al. sure those guy’s weren’t everyday players or high dollar guys like jd, but could you imagine those late 90’s teams without them? so the sox spent 14 million a year on jd. i’m sure you’d hear more disdain for the guy if the sox hadn’t made it to the ALCS every year he’s been on the team.

    sf rod September 1, 2009, 5:04 pm
  • Thumbs up on the hat, here.

    Devine September 1, 2009, 5:05 pm
  • Well, at least no one will mistake you for unbiased.
    A baseball fan, biased?
    PERISH THE THOUGHT.

    Devine September 1, 2009, 5:06 pm
  • IBM, I think everyone would like Drew more if he wore Jason Bay’s hat from that photo. Man, that’s some swagger right there.

    Atheose September 1, 2009, 5:09 pm
  • Bay looks like Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

    I'mBillMcNeal September 1, 2009, 5:11 pm
  • If Drew had handsome latin facial hair people would like him more.
    http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/specials/bill_brett/august09seen1?pg=5

    Atheose September 1, 2009, 5:14 pm
  • Wait so people present good counterarguments and they’re met with infantile babbling?
    Funny, you haven’t tried even once to refute any of the points I’ve made. I’m still waiting for your list of right fielders the Red Sox could have acquired for less money who would have provided more production.
    But that’s right. Drew’s “extremely streaky,” and this means more than the actual numbers he puts up every season. The ones that show he’s actually been worth the money he’s paid.

    Paul SF September 1, 2009, 5:16 pm
  • Months are simply a convenient shorthand for an arbitrarily selected, skewed by small-sample deviations to the point of irrelevancy, slice of 80 – 100 at-bats.
    Fixed that for you.

    Paul SF September 1, 2009, 5:27 pm
  • Ath, the key to that photo isn’t the facial hair. It’s the open collar.
    Also, Paul, I think stats have a HUGE amount of value, but I would not describe Fangraphs’s formulas as “objective” as you do at 4:31pm. They’re a good, defensible attempt to quantify something, but they do involve some judgment. Hell, even stats like hits involve a scorekeeper and have a bit of subjectivity to them.
    Stats are less reliant on subjectivity than sportswriter anecdotes, to be sure, but they’re not free of it entirely. That doesn’t make them any less useful, but the distinction you want to draw is between people who apply thought and care to their judgments and people who don’t.

    stuck working September 1, 2009, 5:27 pm
  • could you imagine those late 90’s teams without them?
    Without a doubt. They were easily replaceable. Heck, they would have kept Lowell at 3rd.
    JD Drew is not easily replaced. But that doesn’t mean he’s properly valued. Everyone knew the Sox got jobbed that winter (with Lugo too). That hasn’t changed. He’s the same player he ever was – the same one that infuriated every fanbase that cheered for him.
    A baseball fan, biased?
    When the post purports to demonstrate his “true” value, I don’t think it’s a stretch to expect unbiased comments. The problem is the article is less biased than the post complaining about it, even as they both reach the same conclusion.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 5:28 pm
  • He’s the same player he ever was – the same one that infuriated every fanbase that cheered for him.
    Yeah, there’s an objective measure of a player’s value. Whether or not the fanbase likes them.
    You know Rob James, for someone who hates how the media negatively portrays ARod you seem to have no problem with it when it happens to Drew. Does he cheat on his wife, I wonder?

    Atheose September 1, 2009, 5:37 pm
  • Fixed that for you.
    Funny, except the monthly numbers are less biased than simply choosing an arbitrary .800 OPS to show that Drew meets that woeful standard 50% of the time – without discussing the other 50% or his vastly inflated salary/contract.
    Your analysis shows everything: Drew has been worth his salary 5 months of the 17 he’s been paid. Case closed.
    If months are too small to analyze, we can discuss seasons too. On that score, Drew has been worth his salary once in three years. And the problem with your defense is he ain’t getting better over the next two years. The contract is a net negative now. It will be even moreso in 2011.
    I’m still waiting for your list of right fielders the Red Sox could have acquired for less money who would have provided more production.
    It’s a long list. The Yankees acquired two who aren’t far from Drew within four months of each other last year. Corner OFs are always available. And the market rightly crashed on them last year.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 5:39 pm
  • So after you have no problem declaring yourself an uncritical fan, now you’re blaming the media? That’s weird.
    I only point out other fanbases to illustrate that Drew has always been this infuriating player. And he always will be. Those of you who see players for who they are don’t need me telling you this. Those of you stuck in fan mode will open your eyes once Drew leaves – exactly like Damon, and Manny, and Clemens before him.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 5:43 pm
  • On that score, Drew has been worth his salary once in three years.
    According to the only stat that even attempts to quantify this, the answer is two. You, on the other hand, have made no effort to quantify this, beyond repeating the same thing over and over as if it makes you right. Guess what: It doesn’t.
    It’s a long list.
    I’ve looked at the list of outfielders available via free agency in 2006, and you’re right: It’s a long list. Of suck. J.D. Drew was the only one worth anything, and as it turns out, he is providing value commensurate to his paycheck.
    Whom the Yankees chose to sign in 2008-09 has little to do with whom the Red Sox chose to sign in 2006-2007.

    Paul SF September 1, 2009, 5:45 pm
  • Who is better at rationalizing an argument, James, Rob or Andrew?

    I'mBillMcNeal September 1, 2009, 5:46 pm
  • But you repeat yourself, IBM!
    I only point out other fanbases to illustrate that Drew has always been this infuriating player. And he always will be.
    And your point is? People don’t like him because he shows very little emotion. I, for one, am more interested in that .391 career OBP.

    Atheose September 1, 2009, 5:49 pm
  • “exactly like Damon, and Manny, and Clemens before him.”
    Whoa, whoa, whoa.
    WHAT?

    I'mBillMcNeal September 1, 2009, 5:56 pm
  • You do realize that the free agent market isn’t the best place to get good players, right? I know the Sox can afford, and overpay, and all, but that’s not the only route. Of course, the Sox could have also planned better.
    As for his value, fangraphs places too much emphasis on defense and position. Drew is being judged by his bat. On that score, he’s been worth his salary in one season or exactly five months. Or are you now disputing the analysis you lead with?
    How do you all feel about Johnny Damon? I mean his value is more than Drew’s. So logic alone says you all think he’s a great player on a great contract (shorter and cheaper than Drew’s). Damon is more “valuable” than Drew. And yet, somehow I don’t think most of you won’t agree with that. Let that rationalization begin!

    James YF September 1, 2009, 5:57 pm
  • That Damon, Manny and Clemens comment might be the biggest bunch of horse shit I’ve read on this web site, ever.

    I'mBillMcNeal September 1, 2009, 5:58 pm
  • So many amazing arguments, so little time! Let me see if I’ve got this straight:
    1. J.D. Drew will stun Boston by signing with the Yankees after a long negotiation with the Red Sox, will sign with a losing team, saying it gives him the best chance to win a World Series after the Red Sox make him a token offer and let him walk, or or will force his way out of town in a three-way trading deadline deal.
    2. Every fan base who has ever seen Drew play has been infuriated — including Atlanta’s, for whom Drew played one MVP-caliber season; Philadelphia’s, for whom Drew never played; and Los Angeles’, who nevertheless expressed shock and anger when Drew decided NOT to play for them anymore.
    3. The deflation of the market for outfielders in 2009 affects the market for outfielders in 2007.
    4. Calendar-based slices of the season are an acceptable form of analyzing a player’s value to his team over the course of three years.
    5. The way by which a player achieves his production is more important than the production itself.
    6. And the best part: Drew is streaky “to his team’s detriment” but is a “very, very good player” (my quote, with which James agreed) who will earn another contract after 2011 even though everyone who has ever watched him play hates him. Left out is whether this new contract will be after he leaves town a la Manny Ramirez or not.
    It’s been fun, but I think this summary says it all.

    Paul SF September 1, 2009, 5:59 pm
  • James, you write, “fangraphs places too much emphasis on defense and position. Drew is being judged by his bat.”
    So the proper way to weight defense and position is to ignore it entirely?? Is that your position?
    Also, I agree with IBM that lumping Damon, Manny, and Clemens together is just trolling.

    stuck working September 1, 2009, 6:00 pm
  • Wait, most of you guys didn’t love all of Damon, Manny, and Clemens while they were wearing your uniform? How soon afterward did you notice all their flaws? One minute or one day?
    stuck – read the “too much emphasis” part again.
    If you want to live and die by fangraphs, Johnny Damon is more valuable than JD Drew – better player on a better contract. And yet how many of you are lining up to say exactly that?
    JD Drew is fine for what he is. Still, the fact remains he’s vastly overpriced and extremely streaky. That’s Benjamin’s point and that’s the result of the 17 month breakdown. He’s just not a guy you want to depend on every day. Many SFs knew that when he signed and it’s still the case.
    So what’s the problem then?

    James YF September 1, 2009, 6:08 pm
  • stuck –
    Just go and check out how wildly the UZR stat jumps around from year-to-year. It’s just not reliable – certainly not like offensive numbers.
    And once we diminish the importance of defense, we soon realize that Drew, this season, is a net negative. He has a month to turn that around. But like Benjamin says which way he goes is anyone’s guess. His streakiness makes that a given. You guys have exactly no way of knowing which way his September will go. If that’s not the definition of streaky I don’t know what is.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 6:17 pm
  • Useless. And probably the same guy in a long line of same guys.

    Devine September 1, 2009, 6:22 pm
  • “You guys have exactly no way of knowing which way his September will go. If that’s not the definition of streaky I don’t know what is.”
    Isn’t that the definition of uncertainty?
    Also, in your most recent comment, you again seem to suggest the proper weighting for defense is zero.
    And I enjoy how, in your eyes, Drew has gone from a good, overpaid player around 12:17pm to now being “a net negative” just 6 hours later.

    stuck working September 1, 2009, 6:24 pm
  • SWISH!!!!
    I heart Swish.
    Can we get this back on track?
    Also, JD is an asshole.

    SF September 1, 2009, 6:28 pm
  • Seriously, we’ve been dealing with this same antagonistic d-bag for years here, he just keeps changing his name.
    Ignore the troll.

    LocklandSF September 1, 2009, 6:28 pm
  • net negative refers to his contract and salary. I thought that was obvious.
    He is a good player. I’m not afraid of saying that. His career numbers are decent even as he’s always been overpriced – he must have a good agent, huh? But I’d never want him on my team.
    No one wants to argue Damon’s value? I guess it’s a given then. No question about which player I’d rather have either.
    Damon or Drew – Does anyone here honestly choose Drew?

    James YF September 1, 2009, 6:32 pm
  • “Damon or Drew – Does anyone here honestly choose Drew?”
    In the magical world where Damon could play RF in Fenway?

    LocklandSF September 1, 2009, 6:39 pm
  • What, RF in Fenway is somehow hard? That’s CF. And it’s not like Drew is racking up assists. Manny could have manned RF. Damon would have been a fine LF. They could have still traded for a CF or promoted Ellsbury earlier.
    All that and I still see 2007 and 2008 playing out the same (and while saving tens of millions). Except Damon would have played 30 more games last year and so the Sox could have had home field advantage over TB. Damon also helps close the gap in 2006 instead of Trot Nixon and especially by forcing the Yankees to play Bubba Crosby in CF or make a trade.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 6:56 pm
  • Wow. Not one person chooses Drew? I didn’t think you’d all cave so quickly.
    And yet, how many of you thought the Yankees overpaid for Damon? I’m going to go out on a limb and say all of you. Now four years later some of you are defending, tooth and nail, a worse contract to a worse player?

    James YF September 1, 2009, 7:00 pm
  • You must be the greatest GM on all of Alternate Earth, James. It’s so cool that the Sox were able to win the 2007 Series there, too!

    stuck working September 1, 2009, 7:02 pm
  • Except with home field advantage in 2008 the Sox might have won again too!
    Hey, at least no one is arguing that Drew is underrated and underpaid any more.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 7:05 pm
  • I’m curious: who’s A-Rod dating on Alternate Earth? I’m guessing Goldie Hawn, just for the bizarro symmetry, right? Loved her in Overboard!

    stuck working September 1, 2009, 7:08 pm
  • Nah, in my Alternate Earth Jeter looked at the team needs, moved to 2nd, and A-Rod is playing SS. So he gets Minka.

    James YF September 1, 2009, 7:11 pm
  • Talk about streaky! Jeter hit .500 in the 2006 post season and .176 in the 2007. Poor Yankees – they just don’t know how Jeter’s post season is going to go.

    rootbeerfloat September 1, 2009, 7:15 pm
  • Only one run, but that inning really set the tone. Hell.

    stuck working September 1, 2009, 7:30 pm
  • Oops, that was meant for the Sox gamer.

    stuck working September 1, 2009, 7:31 pm
  • Nah, in my Alternate Earth Jeter looked at the team needs, moved to 2nd, and A-Rod is playing SS. So he gets Minka.
    The Captain moving from his hallowed position of SS? Unthinkable. That truly is an alternate, bizarro universe.

    SoxFan September 1, 2009, 9:38 pm
  • I am going to say this about Fangraphs’ value stats:
    1. The position adjustment is indeed the same regardless of the player, which is the whole point. If a player posted the exact same line at first base and shortstop, how do you tell who is more valuable? The position adjustment, which has been put forth in basically the same form by Fangraphs, Tom Tango, Baseball Prospectus, THT and others, simply says how many runs of production you should add or subtract based on a player’s position. Contrary to what has been implied here, Drew is actually docked five runs for playing right field, an offensive-minded position.
    2. It’s one thing to say defense is overvalued in WAR and give an example or suggest a more proper weight. Quite another to simply say that and offer nothing else (or to then talk as if defense should have NO weight).
    In Drew’s case, defense made up roughly 14 percent of his 2008 value. This year, it makes up about 28 percent because he’s playing better defense (according to UZR, and as Andrew mentioned elsewhere, defensive stats should be taken with a grain of salt, especially on a year-to-year basis) while not hitting as well (yet. The current hot streak is changing that calculus). In any event, defense has made up no more than a quarter of Drew’s value above a replacement player. So what would be appropriate? An eighth? A sixteenth? I doubt that. Right field is not an easy position, and right field at Fenway is more difficult than most. That Drew plays the position well is certainly worth something, arguably quite a lot given how poor play there can lead to lots of runs in a hurry.
    Again, the Fangraphs guys can defend their own stat, and the way they’ve developed it makes a lot of sense. The links shouldn’t be hard to find on their site (through their Glossary perhaps). I don’t doubt that for certain players it may not work, or that for the elite players you may get what appear to be unrealistic values, but to me, that indicates the degree to which mediocre players are overpaid in free agency, not any fault of the stat itself (you wouldn’t pay Albert Pujols $40 million? Then stop paying Gary Matthews Jr. $10 million). I do know that, according to Fangraphs’ posts from last offseason, that WAR corectly predicted the cost of most free agents in the market when adjusted for length of contract, inflation, etc., and that’s a better piece of evidence than flatly stating an alleged problem with no proof or alternatives.

    Paul SF September 2, 2009, 9:26 am
  • You put all your eggs in the fangraphs basket. It’s honest, at least, you’re now walking that back.
    I think they’re doing fine work. But if defense can jump from 14 to 28 percent of a player’s value from year to year with the same player on the same team, they still have alot of work to do.
    Who’s to say how much defense should be worth? I’d just like the defensive metrics to show some stability before I start trusting them whole hog. Hopefully the new cameras will help.
    Now if we agree on two of Drew’s Sox years, and we do, the only one left to disagree on is this year. If we can’t trust his defensive stats, because of the variability between 2008 and 2009, then he clearly, so far, comes down as a net negative this season.
    So what was the disagreement again?

    James YF September 2, 2009, 11:43 am
  • Aren’t defensive stats based on runs saved above average/replacement?
    Simply combine that with runs scored over average/replacement and there you go. If a player is a very good defender, and not a great hitter, then of course defense is going to take up more of his value.
    Now, we all know that defensive stats can fluctuate wildly over even the course of an entire season. They’re also extremely subjective. So much so that looking at defense for one isolated season can mean little. So in that sense, FanGraphs overvalues defense.
    Their values statistic is interesting, but it’s not reliably useful. Until we can get a much better handle on defensive stats (Hit F/X will provide soon), it will remain unreliable, and thus should never be taken by itself as gospel for a player’s value.

    AndrewYF September 2, 2009, 3:17 pm

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