Boston Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew's batting average peaked at .237 this past week. But, as fans have come to expect, it fell right back to .229 after a 1-for-4 performance in Sunday's 8-6 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
A .229 average with four (it's pathetic that we have to spell out his home run count. How does he not have 10?) home runs is not what you hope for from your $14 million investment.
Josh Reddick, on the other hand, is hitting a whopping .393 during his stay in the majors as Carl Crawford recovers from injury. Reddick's OPS? 1.101. Drew's? .646. I thought Bill James worked for the Red Sox?
The Red Sox are tops in the American League East at the All-Star break, but it's no thanks to J.D. Drew. One could argue Drew hasn't even earned a spot on the major league roster, but you can't exactly spend $14 million on a Triple-AAA player.
So the glaring question is: When Crawford returns from injury after the break, how do the Red Sox justify doing away with Reddick in favor of Drew?
The short answer: they don't.
Josh Reddick needs to be left on the major league roster and, just as much, in the starting lineup. I can't think of one advantage of keeping J.D. Drew in a starting slot. Yes, he's a wonderful fielder and has a great throwing arm, but I'm sure most fans will take a slight dip in fielding percentage (or whatever advanced metric defensive stat you want to use) for an extra .170 batting average points from an important offensive position.
Reddick reminds me of the glory days (of course I mean 2004) when the "idiots" invaded Fenway Park for one glorious year. "Is that a hockey player?" one friend asked when looking at Reddick's unkempt appearance. J.D. Drew never fit that image. He's quite regal both at bat (what a beautiful swing, if only it could connect) and in the field, but it often presents itself as laziness. That would never happen with Reddick. He's a dirt dog and Boston fans love the underdog (see: Pedroia, Dustin, Woodhead, Danny). Reddick will be a fan favorite.
The best part, perhaps, is that there is no pressure on Reddick to perform at a high level. If he finishes the season at .300, that's amazing. As a rookie on a team filled with all-stars, Reddick is an energy guy, a glue guy.
Of course, Drew stays on the roster. Maybe being benched motivates him to get his $14 million backside into the batting cage. Ideally, he's the starting right fielder in the playoffs because I don't think anybody would argue that he is immensely talented. Especially when he's streaking. When he streaks, he rakes. He's just never been able to put it together for a full 162.
For now though, Josh Reddick needs to be the starting right fielder. He's a future fan favorite and is in a great situation to put up some big numbers this season. And if the Boston Red Sox want to hold off the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East, they'll need Reddick's, not Drew's, production in right field.