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Arizona Diamondbacks All-Time Top 50: #17, Stephen Drew

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The Enigmatic Stephen Drew

Chicago White Sox v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images
  • Avg ranking (high/low/most common): 20.76 (7/48/9)
  • Seasons: 2006-2012
  • Stats: 403 games, .266/.328/.436 = .765 OPS, 96 OPS+, 13.1 bWAR, 10.6 fWAR
  • Best season: 2010 - 151 games, .278/.352/.458 = .810 OPS, 113 OPS+, 4.0 bWAR, 4.8 fWAR

It seems like my running theme, so far, is "what could have been?". I wrote about Chad Tracy back on January 15th and part of the article's focus was around how good Chad Tracy could have been had he not been blessed with terrible knees. Well, the Diamondbacks have had plenty of "what could have been?" candidates and Stephen Drew is another great example of one.

From the get-go, Drew appeared to be an enigma despite his rather, well, boring personality. He was a star at Floride State, a five-tool player that included being a hihg-average player with solid power and defense at the shortstop position. Drew was considered the top position player in the draft and had hired on Scott Boras, who immediately demanding a very large deal at the time ($9.5 million). This high demand caused Drew to drop to 15th overall, where the Diamondbacks managed to snag him.

And then the hold-out began. Drew would not sign with the Diamondbacks until May 30th, 2005 (minutes before the deadline would have expired and he would have had to re-enter the draft) for $5.5 mllion over 5 years, including a $4 million signing bonus and up to $2 million in incentives - at the time, the eight-largest deal in MLB draft history. During this time, Drew did not play any organized baseball until a brief stint in April, 2005, when he signed an Independent League deal. Despite this hiatus, Drew jumped straight up the prospect charts, landing at #5 at Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list (with 2005 first overall draft pick, Justin Upton, at #2) for 2006.

So, you could say, Drew had a lot of Hype. And it didn't take long for him to reach the Majors. In mid-July of 2006, Craig Counsell broke his rib which prompted Drew's call-up. Drew would have an excellent rookie campaign, logging 226 PA in 59 games witha stellar .316/.357/.517/.874 for a 117 OPS+. Things, you could say, looked very promising for Drew.

And, if you hadn't figured out things by now, that would end up being the best offensive season in Drew's career. Drew really struggled to be consistent as a hitter, with his OPS+ going as follows: 117, 71, 110, 92, 113, 81, 62. Three really good seasons and four really bad seasons, though he ended up being a plus defender at shortstop. Such was the enigma that was Stephen Drew.

But it was not all bad for Stephen Drew. He was one of my favorite players at the time and one of the first Dbacks shirts I owned. And he has some memorable feats that he accomplished in his ~7 or so years in the desert.

On September 1st, 2008, Drew became the third Diamondbacks player to hit for the cycle, and the first player ever to do it at Chase Field:

Drew is the all-time Dbacks leader in triples with 52, a whopping 15 more than second-place Tony Womack.

Drew is also the best shortstop that Arizona has ever had... which is kind of saying something. Here is the top 5 in AZ history:

  1. Stephen Drew - 10.6 fWAR (732 starts at SS)
  2. Craig Counsell - 9.3 fWAR (163 starts at SS)
  3. Tony Batista - 2.9 fWAR (64 starts at SS)
  4. Cliff Pennington - 2.1 fWAR (83 starts at SS)
  5. Didi Gregorious - 1.8 fWAR (163 starts at SS)

Now, keep in mind, these are their TOTAL WAR values as a Dbacks - not just as SS. For instance, Counsell's 9.3 fWAR includes all of his 664 games as a Dback, not just the 163 at SS. Counsell, Batista, and Pennington all derived most of their values avive at a position other than SS. That makes Didi Gregrious the second-best primary shortstop we've ever had... with a career 1.8 fWAR. That makes Drew's lead all the crazier.

So, there we have it. The Enigmatic Stephen Drew. Arizona's best all-time shortstop, by a landslide, yet still a massive disappointment, relatively speaking. And yet... I still really liked him.