What If J. D. Drew Had Occasionally Smiled, Cursed, or Jumped Up and Down?

by Jason Epstein

Patrick Sullivan at the Over the Monster blog looks at statistics belonging to two position players, one still active, based on five seasons with the Red Sox.

Player Games Total Compensation AVG OBP SLG fgWAR b-refWAR
A* 602 $70M .265 .371 .458 13.7 13.4
B 612 $55.5M .290 .346 .468 10.6 12.4

* As of July 31.

Sullivan points out that Player A performed a little better but also received more compensation. Both excelled at the plate during the 2007 World Series sweep of the Rockies. However, Player B will never have to pay for a beer in Boston, while Player A almost certainly will not be honored for his years of service.

Player B is Mike Lowell. Player A is J. D. Drew.

Sullivan notes:

Drew’s a quiet, introspective family man by all accounts who tries to do a good job and likes to keep to himself. He’s taken Josh Reddick’s ascension with extraordinary class and professionalism, as just one indicator of his character. Lowell is more media-friendly and visible around town. He also played feebly through injuries, something fans admire even as it cratered Boston’s chances to win in 2010. At the beginning of last season, Lowell was vocal about playing regularly, even though his cliff-dive regression and inability to stay on the field necessitated the acquisition of Adrian Beltre.

Nothing against Mike Lowell, of course, but the contrast of Drew and Lowell ties together why their incongruous treatment by the media matters. Lowell can come back to Boston any time, sign some autographs, make some money, do some television and never purchase a meal of his own. Really, he is something of a local hero. On the other hand, despite both his team and personal successes, the media climate has made for a difficult five years in Drew’s case. If he chooses to retire, I wouldn’t blame him for never returning to Boston again. In short, media treatment impacts lives, and their unfair treatment of Drew has undeservedly made his life worse than it otherwise could have been. That might not resonate with some readers because Drew’s wealthy, but there’s more to life than money. Drew accepted a contract offered to him and honored that contract by playing it out with professionalism. The boos and the media hit jobs were never part of the deal.

Read the rest of his column here.