Stephen Drew Bids Adieu
Every year there are players who mark their last time on a major league field, fading into baseball’s history without fanfare or even announcement. Some of those players had a bigger impact on the game than others. Jonathan Papelbon hasn’t played a major league baseball game since 2016, last throwing a pitch in a minor league uniform. If you Google his name and “retirement,” all that pops up are articles about his lack of decision. There are others, to be sure. But their impacts on the game might be the kind that isn’t seen clearly on a FanGraphs’ page. Stephen Drew, who falls somewhere in close to outside of those two types of retirements, confirmed to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post Wednesday that “he was done.”
Drew was the kind of player who got fans excited when he first stepped on an affiliated field. He was drafted 15th overall in 2004 by the Diamondbacks, and the expectations for him were high. He worked up to meet those expectations his first few years in the majors, reaching a peak at 27 years old. That year he slashed .278/.352/.458, but deviating from how most had pegged him as a prospect, his value was dependent on his glove. The bat that most had assumed would be the crux of his value, peaked his first and second to last year, posting a .366 wOBA and 114 wRC+ his rookie year and a .362 wOBA and 124 wRC+ off the bench with the Nationals.
An ankle injury turned his production on a downward slope in 2011, and he never did quite turn it back upwards. But, Drew’s career holds its own against many others, by most measures something to hang a (Diamondbacks, Athletics, Yankees, or Nationals) hat on. It’s not a career that inspires odes and poems, though. Drew gets today’s FanGraphs Newsletter as an homage to the players who don’t get Derek Jeter-type retirements.