Even Terry Francona underrates J.D. Drew
Recently, I penned a piece on Boston’s right fielder, J.D. Drew, extolling his virtues as a ballplayer while outlining his under-the-radar ways. I noted that Drew, throughout his three-year tenure in the Boson organization, has provided exceptional production for the Fenway faithful and, often, for a number of reasons, fans from both the Yankees and the Red Sox – and baseball fans in general – seem to underrate his efforts on the field. While I was mainly discussing fans in my article, as I look at the probable Red Sox lineup for tonight’s game, courtesy of Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe, I cannot help but to wonder if the same thought could be applied to managers, as well.
It appears as though Terry Francona will bat Drew seventh tonight and for the foreseeable future. Drew will hit behind David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre. This decision, to me, is peculiar when you consider Ortiz’s dreadful 2009 campaign and the legitimate uncertainty some in the Red Sox organization still have with regards to Ortiz’s offensive production going into 2010. Conversely, Drew had a great year in 2009, posting a 137 wRC+ and a wOBA of .389. It is important to note that Drew is also a better hitter than Beltre, though I understand the managerial desire to want to separate Ortiz and Drew, two left-handers. However, one wonders why Drew and Ortiz are not flipped (i.e., Drew, Beltre, Ortiz), as it seems like that would provide Boston with better up-and-down production (using CHONE projections, I tried the switch in Dave Pinto’s lineup analysis tool and the runs per game went from 5.380 to 5.393).
It is almost as if manager Terry Francona (who I really like, actually) is basing his lineup on what has been – the glory days of David Ortiz – rather than on what actually is and will be, as Ortiz is no longer the masher of old. If the Sox want to employ an inefficient lineup, by all means, go ahead, but it is interesting to see Drew in the seven-hole.
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