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The Case for Stephen Drew at Shortstop

Stephen Drew (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts is the shortstop of the future. If there was ever any doubt, that was erased with impressive performance during the Red Sox World Series run. That being said, for the next two years Stephen Drew should be manning the shortstop position with Bogaerts playing to his right at third base.

Other than his two-hit game in Game 6 of the World Series, including a home run, Drew had a historically bad postseason with in 2013. His .111 batting average and .140 on-base percentage are the third worst since 1972, only better than Robinson Cano in 2012 and Alex Avila in 2011. While these numbers suggest Drew should not be back next year, they do not reflect what he has done over his career.

Why Drew?

Outside of a gruesome ankle injury in 2011 and a concussion suffered in spring training of this year, Drew has remained relatively healthy over his eight-year career. His career slash line is .264/.329/.435, and while not spectacular, are above-average at the shortstop position. Drew’s left-handed bat would also balance out the lineup that would otherwise be dominated by right-handed hitters. This argument is easily dashed by the fact that Bogaerts should easily surpass these numbers next year and be a much superior offensive shortstop than Drew. This is true, but Drew’s value is not tied to his bat but rather his glove.

As he demonstrated numerous times during the playoff run, Drew is an impact player in the field. Traditional fielding statistics, advanced metrics, and the eye-test all support that Stephen Drew, while not as flashy as Jose Iglesias, is in the upper-echelon of fielding shortstops. In terms of UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), only four American League shortstops were better than Drew in 2013. This is why Stephen Drew should be starting at shortstop for the 2014 and 2015 Red Sox.

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Following by Example

This situation is comparable to what happened with Manny Machado and JJ Hardy in Baltimore. Machado, a shortstop his entire minor league career, was pushed to third because the incumbent Hardy was a solid defensive shortstop while providing average to above-average offense. A similar plan may work to benefit the Red Sox giving them stability at shortstop and third base for the next two years.

Looking Forward

If the Red Sox were to pursue this plan, it would give them the flexibility to make a trade centered around Will Middlebrooks while his stock is still relatively high. Twenty-two year old third basemen Garin Cecchini has proven himself to be an on-base machine in the minors (career .417 OBP over three seasons) and is around two seasons away from being Major League ready, making Will Middlebrooks expendable.

Stephen Drew was an integral part of the 2013 Red Sox run to the World Series. Many would like to thank Drew and begin the Bogaerts era at short, but if Ben Cherington continues to show that he is a shrewd General Manager, the Bogaerts era will start next year at third base and move to shortstop after Drew leaves in two years.

About Jamie Worthington - @Jam_Worth

Jamie is a regular contributor and editor for Sports of Boston, but has thoughts for all Boston areas sports for SoB. He loves that in sports everyone is allowed to have their own opinion and wants to hear yours! Follow him on twitter at: @Jam_Worth

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