PA R 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG VORP WARP
475 76 27 3 14 60 70 86 4 2 .286 .395 .472 20.9 4.7
That’s a hot-off-the-presses PECOTA projection (as appearing in Baseball Prospectus 2007 in Feburary) for J.D. Drew in Boston. Fourteen home runs? What gives?
Park effects for one thing. Dodger Stadium has a reputation as a pitcher’s park which is no longer really warranted. In fact, it’s a downright good park for home runs, especially for left-handed hitters; I have its park factor for lefty home runs at 1045. Fenway, conversely, rates as a 903 for left-handed power; only AT&T Park has a lower score.
League effects are another. As I opined earlier today, the superior competition in the American League has become an increasingly important factor in player analysis. It’s an especially important factor in Drew’s case for a couple of reasons:
(i) Not only is the American League more difficult, but it also has a different “shape”. In particular, somewhat contrary to its reputation, it tends to favor contact hitting and guys who put the ball in play. The National League, by contrast, is a Three True Outcomes league. Those are Drew’s strengths — and he’s moving away from them.
(ii) The American League has a significantly higher fraction of left-handed pitching. PECOTA isn’t quite sophisticated enough to take this distinction into account … but if it did, Drew’s projection would be even more pessimistic.
Now, the news isn’t all bad. Drew’s strong OBP, doubles power, and reasonable defense make him a valuable player, even if he’s a long shot to appear in 150 contests. His MORP works out to about $10.5 million for 2007, given current market trends. But on account of his checkered health history, it declines quickly from there. This contract is, in its own way, just as problematic as some of the deals for slugging-heavy outfielders that were signed in November.