Our Washington Nationals player reviews continue today as we look at how Stephen Drew fared in 2016
Back in January, the Washington Nationals signed infielder Stephen Drew to a one-year deal worth $3 million. Before this past season, Drew hadn’t had a batting average higher than .201 in each of the prior two seasons. In a limited role this year off the bench, Drew found a way to make a positive impact as one of the go-to guys for Dusty Baker.
One of the things Drew did well this season was he gave the Washington Nationals power off the bench. In pinch-hitting situations, the 33-year-old had three home runs and six RBI’s. His three home runs were tied with Chris Heisey for the team lead in that category.
While Drew had three home runs in the first two months of the season, he had a total of nine hits. Then, in the month of June, Drew went 10-for-25 (.400) with three doubles, three home runs, and eight RBI’s.
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On July 23, Drew had his own Curly W moment. In the bottom of the ninth, Drew hit a walk-off triple against Padres reliever Kevin Quackenbush to give the Washington Nationals a 3-2 lead. After that game, Drew would go on the 15-day disabled list because of vertigo-like symptoms.
When Drew went on the 15-day DL, it hurt the Washington Nationals because he was versatile in his ability to play all the infield positions. In 2016, Drew played 12 games at third base, 12 games at shortstop, and 28 games at third base. Without Drew, Baker couldn’t give many days off to Anthony Rendon.
Once Drew came back on September 7, he had a strong finish to his season. Over his final 37 at-bats, he had 11 hits (.297 batting average), one home run, and four RBI’s. Two of those RBI’s came on September 24 against the Pirates. His two-run single against Ivan Nova in the first helped the Nats get a 3-0 lead in a win that helped clinch the NL East title.
As for Drew’s defense, the advanced numbers will tell you he did better as a second and third baseman than as a shortstop. According to Fangraphs, he had two runs saved at second and one at third compared to -3 as a shortstop.
Heading into next season, Drew is a free agent once again. With Trea Turner maybe moving to shortstop and infielders such as Danny Espinosa and Wilmer Difo on the roster, it wouldn’t surprise me if Drew was wearing a different uniform next year. However, in his one year in the Nation’s Capital, Drew did a good job being a reliable option for Baker to turn to off the bench this season.