2011 Projection: Can Stephen Drew Return To His Glory Days?

Stephen Drew, the brother of Boston’s J.D. Drew, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2006.  Two years later the 2004 first round draft pick showed just how good he could be, hitting .291 with 21 HR, 67 RBI, 91 R and 3 SB in 611 AB.  Since then fantasy owners have been waiting for him to rediscover that form to no avail.

In 2010 he continued his less than stellar performance:

565 At Bats
.278 Batting Average (157 Hits)
15 Home Runs
61 RBI
83 Runs
10 Stolen Bases
.352 On Base Percentage
.458 Slugging Percentage
.321 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Even in his “big” power year, he posted a HR/FB of just 9.7% (a career high).  With a career fly ball rate of 42.6%, it just doesn’t seem like he’s made to be a big-time home run hitter despite playing in a favorable hitters’ park (though only 5 of his 15 HR came at home in ’10).  He only hit 13 HR in 342 AB in the Pacific Coast League in 2006, so that statement really shouldn’t be earth shattering.

He spent the majority of his time in 2010 hitting either first (184 AB) or second (136 AB), exactly where he should remain in 2011.  That is going to limit his RBI potential, regardless of how much power he has.  With Justin Upton, Miguel Montero and company hitting behind him he should be given a fair amount of opportunity to score runs…  Of course, he needs to get on base for that to happen.

He does a decent, though unremarkable, job with a career OBP of .332.  Just to put it in comparison, there were 34 players who scored 90 runs or more in 2010.  Only five of them had an OBP below .340.  I know he was above that mark in ’10, but he also benefited from a .321 BABIP (he’s traded good years with marks below .290).  There’s no guarantee that he can maintain the elevated mark, meaning he’s not likely to post a great OBP in 2011.

So, he is not a huge power hitter.  There may not be much upside in runs scored or average (assuming his BABIP regresses).  He has to have speed, right?  The answer to that would be no, as 2010 actually saw him set a career high.

With all that said, here’s what I am projecting for him in 2011:

.282 (162-575), 18 HR, 65 RBI, 85 R, 8 SB, .317 BABIP, .352 OBP, .480 SLG

The best word I have seen used to describe Drew is “reliable”.  While he showed a flash of brilliance in 2008, the past two years he has regressed but put up consistent numbers.  He’s not flashy anywhere, but he isn’t going to hurt you either.  While that makes him far from an elite choice, it makes him usable all the same.

What are your thoughts of Drew?  Is he a player you would target on draft day?  What are you expecting from him in 2011?

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7 comments

  1. Evan says:

    It’s a tough call when it comes to the value of a reliable shortstop. The position is so thin and is lacking a general feeling of pop production, so drafting Drew to satisfy worries of scarcity can be either applauded or frowned upon. I picked him up in a draft that was viewed as an early pick, but how much can you zing someone for valuing dependability?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I don’t disagree, but it depends how early he’s drafted. He is the last “safe” option, before you get to the Alcides Escobar’s and Ian Desmond’s of the world. While I probably wouldn’t take him until Round 12 or 13, I could see him going a round or two earlier then that.

  2. Gman says:

    If I needed a SS I would be on Drew before the 70th pick was gone. I think his post All-start .862 OPS is going to be right around his norm going forward which is monster stuff in the current SS class.

    The glow has definitely gone off Drew in fantasy circles so those of you revel in stealing studs with empty bandwagons jump on. 60 extra base hits by a shortstop (or any posit) is very “flashy” in my book. And, Drew does have exceptional speed. That’s how he gets double digit triples every years. The D’Backs just haven’t utilize it for steals. Can’t blame them since all those whiff/whack guys the last few years made stealing 2nd or 3rd a useless strategy. That may soon change.

    To me Drew will be one of the biggest steals of the draft this year. By years end it’ll be “Tulowitski, Hanley and Drew” spoken all in one breath. Some guys just bloom a year later.

  3. MJ says:

    .282 (162-575), 18 HR, 65 RBI, 85 R, 8 SB, .317 BABIP, .352 OBP, .480 SLG

    If that is what you are predicting for him this season then I would be all over him on draft day. Shortstops are hard to come by and a guy that can have an OPS of .830 at that position is in my opinion HUGE!

    I like Drew a lot. Our league really only cares about on base and slugging. And since Tulo and Hanley are already protected, I will be looking to draft Drew with one of my first picks. If he can get me 575 at bats with a .335 oba and a .465 slg I’d be THRILLED. And I believe that is the worst he will do assuming he remains healthy.

  4. jeff says:

    Remind me again when his “glory days” were?
    This guy has been touted for 5 years now and is the definition of unspectacular.
    Last year he wasn’t top 5 in any category for HR, R, AVG, RBI or SB. The most rbi in any season is 69.
    What am I missing here?

  5. Alan M. says:

    Nice work, Rotoprof.

    Just found this site and it’s one of my faves now — love your projections & analysis.

    I agree with you on just about all fronts on Drew.

    At worst, Drew’s a safe, “reliable” pick at a thin position, good for .280-12-65-5. But I think he still has untapped potential, since he’s only 28 and has proven he has ’08-season potential in him.

    Because he’s an “unsexy” reliable pick — and because people seem to oddly demand speed, above all other stats, from their middle IF — Drew seems to be put behind Desmond, Castro, Andrus, A. Escobar in a lot of drafts. Sure, he’s not a SB threat (yet), but he’s a good pick to outproduce those guys in 3-4 categories.

    IMO there are TWO things holding Drew back: (1) inconsistency and (2) lack of SBs (but not lack of speed).

    Inconsistency: He just can’t seem to even out his home/away splits: ’08 .920 home OPS/.755 away; ’09 .828H/.668A; ’10 .803H/.817A (though he has a much higher HR/AB on the road). Drew also is a slow starter, with his better months in Aug-Oct. Last season, he went .278-15-61 despite hitting zero HRs in June and July; if he hit 2-3 HRs in June & July, maybe Drew’s at .285-20-70 instead…I’ll take that.

    Stolen Bases: I don’t understand the low SB totals. He’s consistently among leaders in triples and has a solid SB success rate, so he has good instincts and functional speed. It’s probably a matter of desire/preference … he’s simply choosing not to attempt more SBs — though he had 10 SBs last year, hopefully a good sign.

    Sure, he’s got a line-drive swing and isn’t exactly a contact hitter, but he’s closer to the 1st tier than expected. He’s already hit .290+, 20+ HR in a season, so you have to think at 28 he’s capable of putting up .290-.300, 22+ HR with just a little more consistency, i.e. no 0-HRs-in-2-months stretches.

    Drew could easily add one more SB every 15 games, which would add 8-10 SBs to his total — the speed’s there. You add 8-10 SBs to just his average offensive season, we’re talking about .280-85-17-70-17 in an average season. Yup, average.

    With more consistency, fewer homerless months, and more SB attempts, Drew could reasonably post .290-90-22-90-15. But just like with his brother, it seems to be a matter of desire. My guess for 2011? .285-85-19-72-14, plenty good enough. How many SS can do that? And at what cost?

    For fun, let’s look at some pre-September 2010 numbers from two NL West shortstops:

    Shortstop A: 461 at-bats, .275-70-12-50-6

    Shortstop B: 348 at-bats, .319-59-12-55-9

    We know which is which (A=Drew, B=Tulo)…. yet Drew can go as low as $3-4, and Tulo as high as $58!! With or without that historic September by Tulo, is Tulowitzki really over $50 better than Drew?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Alan, welcome and I’m glad you enjoy the site!

      I’m a little bit biased because I don’t believe in spending that much money on any one player. It is too much of your budget and makes it tough to fill out your team.

      That said, obviously Tulo is the better player. Players run hot and cold, so while Tulo isn’t going to replicate his huge September, we can’t totally discredit it either.

      I do agree that he’s a good, cheaper fallback option should you miss out on the top options. There certainly is nothing wrong with reliability and, as you said, there could still be a little bit of upside.

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