Kevin Goldstein is a friend of Getting Blanked and the Internet as a whole. He does the Lord’s scouting work, including inventive pieces like the one he ran yesterday, polling GMs in a game of “Would You Rather?” between Youtube prospect Yoenis Cespedes and established big league center fielders.

One of the choices (the least popular choice, according to these front office types) was Colby Rasmus of the Toronto Blue Jays. Seems there isn’t a great deal of faith in Rasmus among big league executives (none of which, it should be noted, were able to acquire Rasmus for two relief pitchers and a minor league arm).

Some comments had merit. One was extremely peculiar and, in many ways, ridiculous.

If you take issue with Colby Rasmus’ swing and work ethic, fine. Tell him you don’t appreciate his haircut or his love of killing cloven-hoofed ungulates. All in play. Just don’t, in an attempt to justify the bad taste he leaves in your mouth, do this (emphasis mine):

“I just don’t think he’s as good as maybe he should be,” said an AL scouting executive. “I don’t like the swing, and there’s something about the J.D. Drew way he goes about things.”

As stated above: don’t like the swing? Legitimate concern. Don’t think he’s as good as he should be? Fair enough, those two thoughts are closely related. Don’t want him to end up like J.D. Drew? Whoops. That’s crazy.

Getting Blanked covered J.D. Drew just a few weeks ago, noting how well he compares to the outfielders of his generation. J.D. Drew rates very well, thank you very much.

As Getting Blanked nemesis/commenter North York Jays noted in the DJF comments, J.D. posted a .287/.391/.513 slash line prior to hitting free agency. He smacked 127 home runs, sported 131 OPS+, and racked up 27 rWAR before cashing in (and continuing to contribute.) Which is to say: you could do a hell of a lot worse.

J.D. Drew also played on 8 different playoff teams (with four different outfits) and posted a .741 postseason OPS. Somehow, in spite of his lackadaisical attitude and minimal effort, J.D. Drew’s teams won and won and won. He played on good teams, surely, but I find it highly dubious to suggest all eight times these teams succeeded with this noted cancer eating away at them from the inside.

Thanks to a still active “Rocco Baldelli” Google alert, J.D. Drew’s name popped up in a typically despairing Bleacher Report “article” entitled J.D. Drew and the 30 biggest busts of all time. You see, because J.D. Drew was simply very good for a long period of time instead of a Hall of Fame singularity, his career is a disappointment. Which is insane.

J.D. Drew had the kind of career hundreds of people would kill for. That he didn’t reach the heights some grafted on to him is patently unfair to a player with 6000 plate appearances and $108 million dollars to his name. If any prospect, ANY PROSPECT, can put together half the career of J.D. Drew, they are an unqualified success.

Grant Brisbee of SB Nation showed that the average number one overall pick in the baseball entry draft average 19.5 rWAR per major leaguer. Less than half Drew’s career total.

A given person’s opinion about J.D. Drew is a great way to form an opinion on that very person. If you hear the words “lazy”, “overrated”, or “unclutch bum” (career high-leverage wOBA? .369.); you can safely excuse yourself from the conversation and do whatever you can to never talk with that person again.

If Colby Rasmus, Anthony Gose, Jake Marisnick, hell even Bryce Harper or Mike Trout can put together comparable careers to J.D. Drew, they are way, way ahead of the game. They will be very lucky and made the most of their considerable skills. No matter what so-called talent evaluators think they believe.

Comments (20)

  1. Is J.D. Drew the most underrated and unfairly maligned player of the last 15+ years?

    • Sure looks that way. He did himself no favors but, on the other hand, who cares? 8 years in the playoffs with four different teams? He did something right.

    • I don’t know if he was overrated, but he was definately overpaid for a portion of his career. That coupled with the way he rubbed fans the wrong way upon being drafted contributed to the hate out there on him.

  2. Are JD Drew and David Eckstein the most polar opposite players in MLB history w.r.t. their public perception vs their reality?…. Yes.

  3. Of course, said exec could have just been referring to JD’s (seemingly) lackadaisical approach and general malaise. I mean I totally agree that dude had been completely undeserving of the shredding he gets annually from the media based on his production, but strictly from a scouting perspective you would have to think the gung-ho Youkilis type attitude is preferable to the laid back approach exhibited by JD.

    • Who cares if he seems lackadaisical in his approach? The only thing that matters is results. If Rasmus hits like Drew and acts like he doesn’t care like Drew, I’ll be very happy. Too much is made of perception of hustle and caring.

      • So, “Hustle and Heart 3.0″ shouldn’t be this year’s motto?

      • On PrimeTime Sports, they compared Rasmus to Kessel, guys who don’t say very much and doesn’t have much of a media personality. That makes difficult interviews and doesn’t make the media too happy. In turn they infer that these types of guys don’t make good leaders and making their teams better.

        I think the negativity from media about these types of players turn the fans against them and conversely put too much fawning on the ‘blue collar’ players, players that ‘play hard’ and get their jerseys dirty. Who don’t really have that much talent. Then if the talented guys suddently play with that much outward effort and emotion, their results will double or triple or something.

  4. I don’t think that the “there’s something about the J.D. Drew way he goes about things” comment was necessarily a comment upon his baseball abilities… I took it to mean how the executive was comparing Rasmus to JD Drew in that they are uncharismatic and somewhat unlikeable, and that they both give the impression (rightly or wrongly) that they are not trying to make the most of their enormous baseball skills.

    I’m not saying that i agree with that point of view, but rather that was my interpretation (guess) of what was meant by that comment.

    • It is still quite an odd comp. Just because his eyes look a certain way doesn’t mean anything to his abilities.

  5. I’d like to know who these execs are. Why do I get the feeling guys like Ned Colletti, Brian Sabean and Kenny Williams were polled. I doubt guys like AA, Friedman or Theo Epstein would come to the same conclusions.

  6. I remember reading that quote yesterday and I almost shit myself. Then I went and looked up Drew’s career stats, and found out that I actually overrated him slightly. Don’t get me wrong, he is/was great, but I actually always thought he was even better than that.

  7. I don’t know about anybody else, but I always loved the nonchalant way that JD Drew played baseball.. The way he just glided gracefully under baseballs in the outfield with that “I don’t give a shit” look was pretty awesome. While everybody else on the field and in the stands was obsessing over a baseball game, he seemed to not have a care in the world. If Rasmus could be our very own Drew, that would be great.

    Of course, it will be pretty hard to get Rasmus to match Drew’s incredible patience.

  8. It might also have something to do with the fact he missed (on average) 40 games a year with various injuries. He had the reputation of being perpetually hurt or at least battling some kind of nagging injury. And players that make the game look easy are always accused of “not hustling” or “playing the game the wrong way”.

  9. Wow. In the same day we get Parkes using intangibles to support his point and Drew pointing to team success to say a player was great.

    You guys both owe a huge apology to Derek Jeter.

  10. Excellent post. That DJF commenter seems like a pretty bright dude.

    JD Drew has been portrayed negatively across baseball ever since he and Boras made their outrageous demands with the Phillies. I believe it was one of the first examples of agents trying to manipulate the draft to land their clients in the most profitable, desirable spot possible.

    It’s ridiculous that people can’t separate the results from their impressions of a player based on “the way he plays the game”. In the book 3 Nights in August I remember La Russa ripping on JD Drew for his lack of passion, saying that once he was given big money he had no incentive to play well. Let’s hope that La Russa ran another All-Star calibre hitter out of town and into our hands.

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