I was in class the other day, listening in (okay, eavesdropping) on a conversation about the Red Sox. The participants seemed to have a good general grasp of the team; at least, they knew all the players - even the scrubs and the new acquisitions. However, there was one comment I just could not let go:
"JD Drew hates baseball."
Um, no. If Drew HATED baseball, he would have called it a career after the first few million bucks. Is JD the most enthusiastic player in baseball? Of course not, and you could even make the argument that he's not even the most enthusiastic guy in right field (I'm pretty sure the umpires show more passion). It's easy to see why JD has not endeared himself to the vast majority of baseball fans, but he's an extremely skilled player all the same.
JD Drew had the misfortune of replacing an absolute fan favorite in right field, the original Dirt Dog, Trot Nixon. Nixon never had a clean uniform by the third inning, as he dove all over the field, trying for any advantage he could. Not offense to Trot, but Drew doesn't NEED to do that: his physical gifts and superior positioning make diving for balls or bases unnecessary, and why risk injury when you can just as easily get there standing?
There was a fan on Twitter this evening who said Drew should soon be arrested for theft, as he steals his salary every game. This is absurd. Drew, by virtue of having the highest salary on the team, has a great big target on his back. The fans want their money's worth, and that's okay, but what most people don't realize is that Drew is a very valuable commodity.
JD Drew has a career OPS of .896. If you take out 2007, when his young son was ill for most of the season, that number jumps to .949. For a guy who is speedy enough to steal bases and get to most balls (10.5 UZR in 2009, 2nd best in baseball for his position) - in Fenway's vast right field, no less - JD is very good with his bat.
Is baseball his passion? Of course not, and he'll never be a Dustin Pedroia or Kevin Youkilis in that regard. But a man who hated baseball would never put up the numbers he does. I was disgusted to hear the home town fans booing him on Sunday night: let's keep it classy, Boston. JD Drew earns his keep, and I'd like to see him get the appreciation he deserves.