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Should Stephen Drew Take Over SS?

August 21, 2012

By now you know that Stephen Drew is on his way to Oakland for what turned out to be pennies. Remember when people wanted to overpay for him? That was fun. With Drew expected to be in uniform tonight, Tuesday, for Oakland should Drew get a large majority of the playing time at short? Simply, no.

The feelings on Pennington range from accepted to, “I want to burn him in effigy.” The latter being wildly overstated. And yes, I am telling you that your hatred towards him is probably wrong. But now with Drew in the fold, had Pennington got some help? First, let us look at Drew’s numbers.

Stephen Drew is the rental of all rentals. Drew is a free agent at the end of the year with a $10MM mutual option, and I can pretty much bet that will not be picked up by the A’s. By the numbers, Drew looks a lot more appealing than Pennington, but I think some caution needs to be taken in crowning him ‘The One’ who will lead the A’s to the Promise Land.

Going by WAR, Drew wins in a landslide, 11.8 to Pennington’s 6.5. By triple slash it is a bloodbath; Drew .266/.328/.436 to Pennington’s .248/.313/.354. Everywhere you look, Drew has the ups on Pennington. But do not forget where he has played a majority of his games.

Only once has he posted a positive WAR in a year in which his BABIP was sub-.300. With updated projections he will barely do that again this year, .2 WAR with a .296 BABIP. Even in the years in which he posted pretty deplorable averages, his BABIP seems to have held him up; 2007: .238 AVG, .267 BABIP, 2011: .252 AVG, .313 BABIP. You could also throw his power numbers out the window, as most of those home runs will now turn to either flyouts or doubles.

His fielding also leaves something to be desired. If you put any faith in defensive metrics Pennington is by far  the better fielder. At short Drew is a career -17.9 UZR fielder and Pennington is 0.6. Yes Pennington was horrible to watch for two years, but Drew has consistently been bad. Only thrice has been posted fewer than double digit errors, and those were years that he did not play the entire year.

Will Stephen Drew get his shot at short? Absolutely. One would hope the A’s did not make a trade simply to sit him on the bench. Should he get the bulk of playing time? In my opinion, no. Yes the offensive upside sounds good, but the A’s simply are not in a situation in which they can give away free runs. Drew’s offensive abilities simply do not afford him the chance to be bad a defensive player.

UPDATE:
Per the wonderful guys over at Baseball Prospectus, the addition of Stephen Drew increase the A’s playoff chances as such: +0.0 percent

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