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JP3700

The Case for Stephen Drew

Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.
It is now 2014 and Stephen Drew is still a free agent. There has been speculation regarding the Twins possibly making a run at Drew. Some are in favor of a possible signing, while some are against it. This is a common theme when speculating transactions. Everyone is going to have their opinion.

Here is my case for signing Stephen Drew.

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Offensive Upside

Stephen Drew was a good offensive player in 2013, putting up a wRC+ of 109. That's even before considering that he is a shortstop. In 2013 the league average wRC+ for shortstops was 85. To put that into perspective, his offensive production was similar to Dustin Pedroia (115 wRC+) compared to the league average second baseman (91 wRC+) or Allen Craig (135 wRC+) compared to the league average first baseman (110 wRC+).

While that gives you an idea of how good his offense was for a shortstop, it would be more helpful to compare him to the player he'd be replacing. Pedro Florimon had a 68 wRC+ in 2013. So Drew was essentially 41% better than Florimon at the plate. To give you an idea of how much better 41% is, I used two other full time Twins players to help illustrate how big of an upgrade Drew would have been over Florimon.

Florimon wRC+: 68
Drew wRC+: 109

Dozier wRC+: 101
Cano wRC+: 142

Plouffe wRC+: 93
Longoria wRC+: 133

*If you are skeptical that it was a career year, this was the fourth season that Drew put up a 109 wRC+ or higher.

Steady Defense

While Florimon is one of the better defensive shortstops in the league, Drew is still a good defensive shortstop in his own right. Here is how Drew's defense has rated over the last five years using UZR/150 and DRS.

UZR/150: 4.0
DRS: 3

Using 4000 innings as the measuring bar, a total of only 10 shortstops rated positive in both defensive metrics during that time frame.

Overall Player

Using the same five year time frame, here are Drew's overall numbers.

wRC+: 98
UZR/150: 4.0
DRS: 3

During that span, only three other shortstops met those standards: Tulowitzki, (Yunel) Escobar, and Peralta. In 2013, once again, only three shortstops met those standards. Tulowitzki, (Yunel) Escobar and Hardy.

Health Concerns

Health should be a concern with every player, but it seems to be overblown with Drew. He has been tagged with words like injury prone and fragile, which doesn't seem to be fair.

When you take out his flukey ankle injury, Drew averaged 142 games played in his other five full seasons in the league. In those five seasons he has been on the DL three times for a total of 54 days. Those three DL stints were caused by two hamstring strains and a concussion suffered from being hit in the head by a pitch. So other than a couple of freak injuries, he's been quite durable.

2015 Class

There has been talk about shortstops who may be available through free agency next offseason. So I wanted to compare them to Drew using their age when hitting free agency, along with their offense and defense over the past five seasons. I didn't include Ramirez and Jeter because they aren't realistic options due to many factors.

Age wRC+ UZR/150 DRS
Drew 31 98 4.0 3
Cabrera 29 107 -10.8 -19
Lowrie 31 108 -4.4 -28
Hardy 32/33 92 9.3 31
Rollins 36 92 4.6 -29

All things considered, Drew looks to be the most attractive player.

The Conclusion

Other than giving up a draft pick, all things point to Drew being a great signing. He is a good player who would provide a significant upgrade at a position in which the Twins lack options. He would also provide balance to an infield (Dozier, Plouffe) that struggles against right handed pitching.

There seems to be a thin market for Drew with the Red Sox and Mets being the two teams most often mentioned. There have been reports that teams are not willing to go past two years, so this would be a good time for the Twins to jump in and offer Drew three years, $30-33 million.

It would be nice to have another proven position player alongside Mauer to help with the infusion of youth coming up in the next couple of years. Especially a shortstop.

Updated 01-04-2014 at 01:12 AM by JP3700

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  1. jorgenswest's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34
    How does Jhonny Peralta (age 32 in '14, 4yr/$53M) compare to Drew? Why did the Cardinals go with Peralta over Drew?
    He projects better. Last three seasons wRC+

    Drew 92,80,109
    Peralta 122,86,123

    Both will likely move away from SS before end of contract. Perralta has more bat to make that work.
  2. JP3700's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest
    He projects better. Last three seasons wRC+

    Drew 92,80,109
    Peralta 122,86,123

    Both will likely move away from SS before end of contract. Perralta has more bat to make that work.
    That season in the middle is the year he was recovering from injury. This was his wRC+ month by month after he returned that year.

    June 7
    July 42
    August 85
    Remainder of Season 108

    If you remove that season, his last three are 113, 92, 109.

    Last five years

    Drew wRC+:98
    Peralta wRC+:99

    If the assumption is that age 33 is the year it's all over for shortstops (since that would be Drew's final year of a three year deal), then the Cardinals just paid for one year of Peralta being a shortstop. Maybe less, considering his build and athleticism.

    Pretty sure that the Cardinals realized that an above average bat at shortstop plays, even with slight decline defensively.
  3. twinsfan34's Avatar
    Very good stuff.

    I respect Drew a lot for coming back from that horrific ankle injury, which are way harder to come back from than most injuries, e.g. a knee as the range of motion and requirements of an ankle are so much different.

    Great stuff on Peralta, makes sense. I only felt Peralta was better tangibly because of his offense.

    I wouldn't want Drew more than 2 years, unless the price is under $8/9M a season. He'll be 31 during the 2014 season, which, as you eluded to, I don't feel he'll be able to warrant the position defensively by age 33 and his bat, likely isn't good enough to warrant a shift to 3B for instance.
  4. jorgenswest's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by JP3700
    That season in the middle is the year he was recovering from injury. This was his wRC+ month by month after he returned that year.

    June 7
    July 42
    August 85
    Remainder of Season 108

    If you remove that season, his last three are 113, 92, 109.

    Last five years

    Drew wRC+:98
    Peralta wRC+:99

    If the assumption is that age 33 is the year it's all over for shortstops (since that would be Drew's final year of a three year deal), then the Cardinals just paid for one year of Peralta being a shortstop. Maybe less, considering his build and athleticism.

    Pretty sure that the Cardinals realized that an above average bat at shortstop plays, even with slight decline defensively.
    Sounds like the Cardinals signed the wrong guy. Drew will come cheaper also.
  5. USAFChief's Avatar
    Barring injury, there isn't any logical reason to think Drew will be too old to play SS at 34.
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