The Red Sox shortstop situation remains the one question mark as we head into May. The team sent a message to Jose Iglesias, Stephen Drew, and the rest of the organization when the front office sent Iglesias back to Pawtucket the instant both doctors and Stephen Drew deemed himself ready.
Drew’s play on the field, however, leaves the question mark on the proverbial page. His measly .146 average and .250 slugging percentage will rise, but by how much? His highest average of the last three years was .252 in 2011. For Drew at the plate, his effectiveness stems from his power. From 2006 to 2010 with the Arizona Diomandbacks, Drew’s lowest slugging percentage was .370 in 2007, while recording a slugging percentage of more than .500 twice (2006 and 2008). Prior to his gruesome ankle injury in 2011, Drew was consistently one of the most powerfully hitting shortstops in the game.
Post ankle injury, however, Drew has yet to display the same power. The closest he has come were in his 39 games with Oakland last season, in which he posted a .382 slugging percentage. The most troubling pattern of Drew’s has been his strikeout to walk ratio. In 2012 he walked 37 times while striking out 76 times. So far this season he has 8 walks and has struck out 16 times.
Drew counterpart Jose Iglesias has not fared much better. Since being sent to Pawtucket, Iglesias has walked just three times while striking out eleven times. He has homered three times already, three more than Drew this season. But until this year, Iglesias had yet to record a season with more than one homerun, so time will tell if this new power surge is trend or truth.
The perceived difference lies in their fielding abilities. Scouts compare Iglesias’ range, glove skills, and intangibles to the likes of Omar Vizquel, and former Red Sox shortstops Alex Gonzalez and Orlando Cabrera. But Drew, thus far, has closed the gap enough to at least warrant time to right his ship at the plate.
Where Iglesias has made three errors this year at Pawtucket, Drew has made just one error with Boston. According to baseballreference.com, Drew, so far this season, is worth three runs above the average shortstop in the field. That puts him on pace for a +24-run rating over the average MLB shortstop for the season. These numbers, of course, stem from a 15-game sample size. Drew has not played in more than 100 games since the 2010 season. Time will tell for Drew and Iglesias: what is truth and what is trend? We will know what the Red Sox think come the July 31 trade deadline.