Some call it a sophomore slump. Others call it regressing to the mean
or plummeting back to Earth. Regardless of the title, very few rookies who
have standout seasons match that performance in their second year- particularly
those who did not spend all of their rookie year in the majors.
Not only has Drew's major league excellence been brief, but his minor league
numbers were a mere flash as well. Excluding his stint in the hitter's
paradise of Lancaster, Drew's minor league career does not indicate someone who
is ready to attain superstar status in the majors.
|2005- Lancaster (Hi-A)
|2005- Tennessee (AA)
|2006- Tucson (AAA)
Drew only has 207 professional games under his belt, not even a
season-and-a-half's worth of games. Expecting him to spearhead an offense would
be preposterous. Of course, with just 148 games under his belt last year,
Drew graduated to the majors and became one of Arizona's most dependable hitters
down the stretch. Why should things be any different this season?
The main reason that player have sophomore slumps is because scouting reports
become much more detailed for a second year player who had a big rookie season.
At this point, Drew's scouting report should be fairly simple: avoid the strike
zone, and Drew will get himself out. His plate discipline has been
universally poor, but proved even worse at the big league level, as he drew but
10 unintentional walks as compared to 50 strikeouts.
His older brother, JD Drew, has long been criticized for not getting the most
out of his talent due to motivational problems. Stephen hasn't really hit
that roadblock so far, but it bears watching whether he'll be able to dig
himself out of a prolonged slump in the majors.
A secondary explanation for many second-year failings is simply that for a
rookie to have put up standout numbers, he must have received his fair share of
luck. Many of Drew's hits last year were certainly bloopers and seeing-eye
grounders. Moreover, balls really didn't jump off his bat outside of the
arid desert. He batted .273 and slugged .391 away from Chase Field.
He could only hit homers there and in the Friendly Confines last year, going 99
homerless at bats everywhere else. Naturally, he gets to benefit from
Chase again this season, but his impotence on the road could easily lead to
frustration and lingering mechanical problems with his swing.
Aside from that pretty swing of his, Drew possesses above average speed and a
solid glove. This ensures that even in a worst case scenario with the bat,
Drew should still be a useful player this year.
There are still many reasons to believe that Stephen Drew will have a fine
career. But those expecting him to have a standout offensive season in
2007 are likely going to be quite disappointed. Let's put the Alex Rodriguez comparisons aside until Drew first proves that he's not the next Alex Cintron.
2007 Prediction: .272/.320/.457 16 HR 61 RBI
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