2008 Projections: J.D. Drew

Ah, where to begin with J.D. Drew? The 5-year, $70M free agent contract or the .171/.315/.237/.552 May and .258/.368/.391/.759 first half that had fans calling for his head on a platter? Theo had been following him for years, and considered him a very good fit for Fenway Park. Drew did manage a pretty good .284/.392/.442/.833 line at home, but it was a rather disappointing season on the whole, given the large contract and all the hype. Was he really worth paying that much for, to steal away from the Dodgers?

There are some mitigating factors to consider here, though. Drew was making the difficult transition from the NL to the AL, and into the pressure cooker of Boston, no less. He suffered through a mid-season operation on his newborn child, and the worry and stress that brought with it. There is no argument about Drew’s glove in right, at least. Almost every metric has him as well above average in the field to one of the top 5-6 RFs in the AL. As with Lugo, the second half of 2007 was much kinder to Drew, and his hitting surged in August and September; by then, however, most of Red Sox Nation had already made up their minds about him as an overrated, overpaid, injury-prone player. His .342/.454/.618 September is pretty good reason to hope for 2008.

But I’m not real excited by some of things I’ve seen from Drew as well. He seemed to hit a ground ball to short or second every time up, and he hit into a ton of fielder’s choices. His GB rate of 45.7% was actually right around his career rate of 44.4%, and that’s not encouraging. Despite that, he only hit into 12 double plays last season (it seemed like a whole lot more to me). He hit only .224/.285/.353 against lefties last year, which is pretty bad. He looked bad against them, too, flailing at everything from pitchers like C.C. Sabathia (0-3 with 3 Ks last season). That’s gotta make him the most expensive platoon player ever, right?

Well, let’s just take solace that J.D. can’t do much worse than last season. He’s still got a .284/.390/.500 career line, albeit all in the National League. I think he has to bounce back at least some this year, but he needs to stay healthy. He did play in 140 games for us last year, but only started 126 of them. He should set a goal of 135 GS this year, and move up from there. Drew will probably hit #6 or #7, but could hit #2 in the order if Pedroia, Lugo or Ellsbury falter early. I think Bill James is a tad optimistic, but I also think the other projections here are shortchanging him just a little too. My projection: .280/.380/.470 with around 17HR and 75RBI.

Projection comps:

Marcels:	.272/.359/.451	15HR	71RBI	452AB
Bill James:	.284/.390/.500	20HR	78RBI	510AB
CHONE:		.273/.383/.454	15HR	75RBI	465AB

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