I like Stephen Drew.
I liked him during the playoffs when he wasn’t hitting but seemed to get to every ball hit his way.
I liked him during the season as well, even when he started off slowly. Recall he was only hitting .154/.267/.250 at the end of April. Though many people said he was a below average shortstop, the stats say otherwise. Of all starting shortstops with more than 100 games at the position here is a chart of those players ranked by WAR:
Stephen Drew was not the top shortstop, but he was in the top 10 and one of the top 5 shortstops in the AL. Despite all the snarkiness he endured from the Boston media, he was a reliable defender at a premium position and an offensively productive player for the Sox. I bet you didn’t know that with 2 outs and runners in scoring positon Drew hit .311/.382/.639. I don’t know about clutch hitting, but Drew performed best with two outs. Here is another interesting tidbit – a chart ranking the 2013 Red Sox players with the highest slugging percentage with 2 outs and RISP:
Bet you would not have guessed that. The Sox, though, clearly noticed the value of Drew to the team since they never seemed to entertain any thought of pulling him from the starting lineup during the playoffs or even when he was mired in a slump.
With all that said, I love Xander Bogaerts even more then Stephen Drew and I’d prefer that he be the starting shortstop in 2014. It would seem that the Sox feel similarly because they’ve really not taken much of an interest in resigning Drew, despite their protestations otherwise. The Sox seem to be saying “Well, if you can’t find a job anywhere else we’ll take you back for a year.” I wouldn’t be averse to this arrangement, but I’d only want to see Drew back if it came at the expense of Will Middlebrooks’ playing time. I don’t imagine, though, that Drew will want to move off shortstop.
So, what to make do Xander? Here’s an off the wall comparison for you. Xander and Mystery Player (by the way, I love this game). Both players made end of the year MLB debuts at age 20. Both were shortstops in the minor leagues. Like Xander, there were concerns that Mystery Player would have to move to third. Here are their minor league stats:
- Age 17, Rookie Ball, 280 PA, .314/.396/.423, 7 2B, 3 HR
- Age 18, A Ball, 296 PA, .260/.324/.509, 14 2Bs, 16 HR
- Age 19, A+-AA, 532 PA, .307/.373/.523, 37 2B, 20 HR
- Age 20, AA-AAA, .297/.388/.477, 23 2Bs, 15 HR
- Age 20, MLB, 50 PA, .250/.320/.364, 2 2Bs, 1 HR
- Age 17, Rookie Ball, 270 PA, .264/.331/.301, 7 2Bs, 0 HR
- Age 18, A-AA, 495 PA, .286/.337/.410, 28 2Bs, 8 HR
- Age 19, AA, 611 PA, .276/.367/.492, 28 2Bs, 25 HR
- Age 20, AAA, 507 PA, .288/.383/.535, 31 2B, 23 HR
- Age 20, MLB, 40 PA, .128/.150/.278, 0 2B, 0 HR
Now, I’m not saying that these minor league numbers match up or that you can even compare minor league numbers from era to era, but there are some interesting similarities, no? I think Mystery Player was a tad more advanced, having spent his entire 19 year old season at AA and his entire 20 year old season at AAA. But, there is something here.
Have you figured out the Mystery Player? Here’s a hint, this shortstop made his MLB debut in 1981. Answer – Cal Ripken, Jr.
Wouldn’t that be a nice comparison!