Taking stock of Stephen Drew's historic postseason slump

October 24, 2013 - 11:50 pm
Stephen Drew is not having the worst postseason offensive performance of all time. But he's shockingly close to that inglorious status. Before diving into that reality, it is worth noting: Drew has continued to offer strong defensive contributions at a key position on the field. He has found meaningful ways to contribute to multiple Red Sox wins this month, and he's played a tangible role on a team that is in the World Series in no small part because it has held its opponents to the fewest runs per game (2.92) of any team in the postseason. That said, he's represented a lineup black hole like few others in baseball history. Drew has stepped to the plate 43 times this postseason -- one of 673 players in playoff history with 40 or more plate appearances in a single postseason. After an 0-for-3 night in World Series Game 2 on Thursday, he's gone 4-for-42 with one walk and 15 strikeouts. That translates to a dreadful .095 average and .116 OBP. How bad are those marks? Of the 673 players with 40 or more plate appearances in a single postseason, Drew ranks 669th in average -- ahead of only Alex Avila (.073, 2011), Robinson Cano (.075, 2012), Chone Figgins (.086, 2009) and Mike Epstein (.094, 1972). Given his track record as a strong on-base presence, it is perhaps even more surprising to realize that Drew's .116 OBP is the third worst ever, better than only Cano (.098 in 2012) and Avila (a nearly identical .116 OBP as the one Drew is currently carrying). In some ways, he's lucky that his numbers are that robust, given that two of his hits were of the infield variety (including the World Series Game 1 pop-up that landed between pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina). Drew -- who has 15 strikeouts against his one walk -- is aware of his terrible results, a notion undoubtedly reinforced by the fact that he was replaced by pinch-hitter Daniel Nava in the bottom of the ninth on Thursday. Yet the shortstop, though frustrated, remains confident that his approach has been better than his results would suggest.  "Sooner or later, I've got to snap out of it. ... My career will tell you that," Drew said. "It's definitely something that sucks right now with being in the postseason. [I'm] not trying to figure things out. Really not even pressing that much. I'm taking good swings. I'm missing that pitch that I need to hit." As the Sox prepare to head to St. Louis, where they will lose one of either David Ortiz or Mike Napoli in Games 3, 4 and 5 in the absence of a designated hitter rule, the ability of Drew to rebound could prove pivotal. The Sox need to find offsets for the missing production in their lineup, and based on his solid regular season (a .253 average, .333 OBP and .443 slugging mark), Drew has a chance to be a part of that. "We're still hopeful," manager John Farrell said before Thursday's game, "Stephen Drew is going to get going." For now, however, rather than lengthening the lineup, Drew is offering a reprieve within it, amidst a performance that is proving historically distinctive for all the wrong reasons.