- CF, LF, OF, RF, DH
- November 20, 1975
- 6' 1"
- 200 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-08-1998 with SLN
- Allstar Selections:
- 2008 AsMVP
Drew’s abundant talent garnered comparisons to immortals Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle before he had played even a full month with the St. Louis Cardinals. After a record-setting three years at Florida State, he had become a poster-boy for greedy ballplayers when he engaged in an acrimonious contract holdout after being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1997.
Born in tiny Hahira, Georgia, Drew was raised Baptist by parents who took him to church almost daily. He didn’t take up baseball until the age of 13, when he tired of playing wide receiver on his high school’s run-oriented football squad. Taken in the 20th round of the 1994 draft by San Francisco, Drew elected instead for college, telling the Giants that he wanted to get bigger and stronger.
Drew attended Florida State University, where he played under head coach Mike Martin. At Florida State, he was the winner of the 1997 Dick Howser Trophy and the 1997 Golden Spikes Award, was named the 1997 Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year, the 1997 Sporting News Player of the Year, and was a consensus All-American (1997). He also was named the 1997 ACC Player of the Year. He was a 1996 member of Team USA. Drew was First Team in 1996, Freshman All-American in 1995 and was named to the College World Series All Tournament Team in 1995. He was the first player in college baseball history to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. He set a Florida State record by batting .455 in 1997 while managing to become one of only three players in college baseball history to have 100 hits, 100 runs and 100 RBIs. During his college career, Drew broke 17 school and conference records.
1997: Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies
Disregarding warnings from agent Scott Boras not to pick Drew unless they were willing to pay top dollar, the Phillies selected Drew with the second overall pick of the 1997 draft. (J.D.’s brother Tim Drew, a high school senior, was taken in the first-round by the Cleveland Indians, marking the first time two brothers had been taken in the first round of the same draft.) Boras and Drew asked for a contract package that totaled $11 million, a number that Philadelphia staunchly refused to consider. In a bizarre chapter of the saga, Drew claimed never to have received three executed minor-league contracts the Phillies sent via Federal Express to his parents’ home in Georgia and later to his Florida State address.
Unable to agree to a contract with the Phillies, Drew opted to spend the 1997 season with the St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League, where he batted .318 with 18 home runs and 50 RBIs in 44 games, earning the league’s Rookie of the Year Award. Despite his offensive assault, Drew faced resentment from both fans and player for his holdout. After hitting him in the shoulder with a pitch, Sioux Falls hurler Rich Hyde admitted to throwing at him intentionally. “I never made any money in this game, and he’s turning down $2 million," explained Hyde. "A lot of guys here don’t appreciate that. I wanted to send that message to him.”
1998–2003: St. Louis Cardinals
Drew re-entered the draft the next year, and the Cardinals took him with fifth overall pick in June 1998. After signing a four-year deal worth approximately $8.5 million and playing just 45 games at Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Memphis, Drew was called up to St. Louis that September. He made his debut on September 8, 1998, the day Mark McGwire hit his record-setting 62nd home run. Playing his first road game the next day at Cincinnati, Drew responded to the jeers and boos of the crows by launching his first major-league home run, a 438-foot blast off Gabe White. In 14 games that month, Drew batted .417 with five home runs, fueling expectations for his impending rookie year.
While Drew tore through the exhibition season in the spring of 1999, Cardinals coaches fell all over themselves trying to praise him. Hitting coach Mike Easler described the left-handed swinger as “Wade Boggs with power” and compared his running and defensive skills to Mantle. Manager Tony LaRussa opined, “He has the standard five tools and I give him an extra-credit half tool because he knows how to use them.”
But despite opening his rookie campaign batting in the most coveted lineup spot in baseball – directly ahead of new home run champ McGwire – Drew’s first year did not turn out as planned. He batted just .242 with 13 home runs and 19 steals in 104 games, and was criticized by LaRussa for poor outfield fundamentals. Adding injury to insult, Drew was sidelined more than six weeks by a quadriceps injury in May.
The rookie also suffered the wrath of the City of Brotherly Love when the Cardinals traveled to Philadelphia in August. While Phillies ace Curt Schilling hinted that he might go head-hunting at the man who had spurned his city (Schilling was quoted as saying Drew had better wear a batting helmet with double earflaps), Philadelphia fans booed Drew lustily and brought all manner of colorful signs to the ballpark. Eight arrests were made at his Veterans Stadium debut on August 10, 1999 when two D-cell batteries were thrown at him in the outfield.
In his book Three Nights in August, Buzz Bissinger mentions former manager Tony La Russa's frustration with Drew's lack of passion. La Russa tells Bissinger that it seems Drew has decided to "settle for 75%" of his talent, in large part because of his enormous contract.
2004: Atlanta Braves
On December 13, 2003, Drew was traded to the Atlanta Braves along with catcher Eli Marrero for starting pitcher Jason Marquis, relief pitcher Ray King, and rookie prospect Adam Wainwright. There, he had the best season of his career while finally managing to stay healthy. In 2004, he displayed excellent power, patience, and defense hitting .305 with 31 home runs, 118 walks, and 93 RBI, finishing 6th in the MVP voting.
2005–06: Los Angeles Dodgers
In December 2004, Drew signed a five-year, $55 million dollar contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which included an escape clause after the second year. Roughly halfway through the 2005 season, Drew's season was again cut short after being hit on the wrist by a pitch from Arizona Diamondbacks' pitcher Brad Halsey.
On September 18, 2006, Drew was part of only the fourth ever set of back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs with fellow Dodgers Jeff Kent, Russell Martin, and Marlon Anderson.
In 2006, Drew exercised his contract option clause, forgoing $33 million over the next 3 years to become a free agent. The Dodgers' General Manager Ned Colletti said in a teleconference that he was "surprised how it came down. Everything we had heard, everything that had been written led us to believe the player loved being here." This was especially a surprise since a few days before, Drew had told an LA Times columnist on how happy he was in LA and that he was looking forward to the upcoming 2007 season. Drew had a very good season, batting .284 with 20 home runs and 100 RBIs.
2007–present: Boston Red Sox
On January 26, 2007, Drew officially signed a five-year contract with the Red Sox worth $70 million. Drew's revised contract has a clause that allowed the Red Sox to opt out of Drew's five-year contract after three or four years if Drew has extensive injuries due to a previously existing problem in his right shoulder.
On April 22, 2007, Drew was again part of a set of four consecutive home runs on April 22, 2007, in a game against the New York Yankees, this time joining with Manny Ramírez, Mike Lowell, and Jason Varitek. He is the only player to participate twice in a string of four straight home runs, and, oddly enough, he was the second player to go deep in each instance. Drew finished the 2007 season with a .270 batting average, 11 home runs, and 64 RBI.
On October 20, 2007, Drew hit a grand slam in Game 6 of the 2007 ALCS with the Red Sox facing elimination. The home run, along with brother Stephen Drew's for the Arizona Diamondbacks, marks the third time that two brothers have both hit home runs in the same postseason.
In 2008, Drew finished with a .280 average, with an OBP of .408 and a slugging percentage of .519. At the end of June, Drew was named the AL Player of the Month after hitting .337 and hitting 12 home runs while taking over for David Ortiz's three-spot in the lineup while he was on the disabled list. Drew was officially announced as an A.L. All-Star reserve on July 6. This was Drew's first All-Star game appearance. He hit a 2-run homer in his first at-bat as an All-Star and scored the winning run en route to winning the game's MVP award. In what was to become the longest All-Star Game time-wise in MLB history, the American League (and Drew's Red Sox) manager Terry Francona, having almost run out of pitchers, contemplated putting Drew, a former high school hurler, on the mound to close the game. "I'd have been ready," Drew said. "I've had an opportunity to throw a lot in the outfield. I don't know if I would have gotten anyone out, but I'd have thrown something up there." Drew later visited the 15-day disabled list, spending from August 27 to September 8 on the DL with a strained lower back.
On October 3, in Game 2 of the 2008 ALDS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Drew hit a go-ahead two-run home run. On October 16, in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Drew helped to bring the Red Sox back from a late-inning seven-run deficit with a two-run home run in the eighth inning and then delivered a walk-off hit in the ninth. However, the Red Sox lost to the Rays in the seventh game. In 2009 , Drew hit .279 with an .392 OBP while hitting 24 Home runs and 68 RBI. For 2010, Drew hit .255 with 22 HR & 68 RBI. He also played in 139 games , his highest total since 2007 when he joined Boston.
Throughout his career, Drew has often been criticized by fans and the media for his perceived lack of effort and toughness, and for not being worth the amount of money his salaries have commanded.
The Boston Globe once praised him as "a five-tools player with an uncanny batting eye, a swing smoother than butter, and long, measured strides that eat up great chunks of real estate, whether running the bases or tracking down fly balls."
Drew's younger brother, Tim, was also drafted in the first round in 1997, making them the first brothers drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft in the same year. J.D., Tim, and their brother Stephen have all been on MLB rosters. Tim was last with the Atlanta Braves and Stephen is currently the Arizona Diamondbacks starting shortstop.
Drew married his girlfriend Sheigh, on November 10, 2001, in Hahira, Georgia. Drew identifies himself as a Christian, and has made his religious views known several times.
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