Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You throw batteries at the other Drew.

Consider the stats of three 25-year-old middle infielders, all playing in good hitting environments:

Player A: .291/.333/.502, 21 HR, 67 RsBI, 110 OPS +

Player B: .263/.355/.441, 20 HR, 61 RsBI, 109 OPS +

Player C: .266/.308/.468, 13 HR, 57 RsBI, 93 OPS +

The third set of counting numbers are diminished because their owner, Chase Utley, only appeared in 94 games as a 25-year-old. But the rate stats hold true.

The second set of counting numbers are also dampened slightly because their owner, Ian Kinsler, appeared in 130 games. The rate stats still hold true.

The owner of the first set of stats, Stephen Drew, played 152 games as a 25-year-old. His rate stats are the best of the bunch. He also became only the third short stop in history -- joining Nomar Garciaparra and Robin Yount -- to accumulate 40 doubles, 10 triples and 20 home runs, which is admittedly a bit of an invented stat.

All told, Drew accumulated 76 extra-base hits in 2008, which beat Hanley Ramirez (71) and Jose Reyes (73) -- though to be fair, Ramirez and Reyes didn't play in hitter-friendly parks.

Now consider what Kinsler and Utley did as 26-year-olds:

Kinsler: (121 GP) .319/.375/.517, 18 HR, 71 RsBI, 134 OPS +

Utley: .291/.376/.540, 28 HR, 105 RsBI, 132 OPS +

Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projection system doesn't see Drew quite matching the age-26 seasons of Kinsler or Utley, but it does rank Drew as an elite short stop in EQA (ninth among SS), slugging (third), VORP (sixth) and Upside (ninth).

Drew is a talented hitter with a ton of upside. He's not that far off from being an elite short stop, and he bears watching in 2009 and beyond.

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