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Hall of Fame Poll: J.D. Drew

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I was going to skip J.D. Drew but he was a better player than I remembered, maybe because he had his best years in the NL.

Drew had a pretty interesting start to his career. He was drafted but the Phillies, first round, second overall, in the 1997 draft. Drew had Scott Boras as an agent or adviser or whatever they called agents of just drafted players. Boras, as is his nature, said that Drew wouldn't sign for less than a $10 million signing bonus. The Phillies, not wanting to set a new level for draft picks, offered something like $2.8 million. Drew rejected it and went off to play semi pro ball, for the Saint Paul Saints.

The Cardinals picked him, again in the first round, fifth pick overall, in the 1998 draft (Drew went from Saint to Cardinal, a demotion I would think). This time Drew ended up signing, taking a $7 million offer.

Phillies fans never forgave him (though maybe they should have been mad at their front office? Who drafts a guy number 2 overall without being sure they could sign him?). We had a family vacation to Florida, in 2004 and went to a spring game between the Braves and Phillies. Phillies fans booed him every at bat. I asked someone why, and they told the story of him not signing. I said 'that was 8 years ago'. 'We know' was the answer.

Drew had a nice career 14 seasons, played for the Cards (6 years), Braves (1), Dodgers (2) and Red Sox (5) (finishing his downward slide from Saint, he finished his career firmly on the sinner side). He won a World Series ring with Boston. He was a bit injury prone, never played more than 146 games in a season. In 1566 games he hit .278/.384/.489 with 242 home runs. His best season was the one with the Braves, hitting .305/.436/.569 with 31 homers and 118 walks (keeping up with the Joneses, who had 30 (Chipper) and 29 (Andruw) home runs. He finished 6th in the MVP voting.

His career bWAR was 44.9.

He was a good defensive right fielder, had a 6.5 UZR/150 at the position for his career and had a good arm. He also played some center.

Drew likely falls a little short of the Hall, but for me he's pretty near the top of the 'next level' players.

You can look at his career numbers here.

Matt W's chart for Drew:

A lot of debate about the Hall of Fame relates to comparing a candidate against others elected and excluded. The chart below shows all players who played the majority of their career after 1945 (excluding active players, and those on the ballot or yet to hit the ballot) according to how long they played and how productive they were. TRC+ is wRC+, just for all runs rather than just batting runs. This is not meant to be definitive, but a high level starting point showing how players with similarly productive and lasting careers have fared.


Similar players: Ralph Kiner (elected BBWAA), Larry Doby (Veteran's Committee), Thurman Munson, Nomar Garciaparra, Darryl Strawberry, Andy Van Slyke, Dustin Pedroia (active)