Given that (a) no team has been linked to him at all this winter; and (b) he himself has sounded very unenthusiastic about playing again, this is not terribly surprising, but Jon Heyman reports that J.D. Drew is likely to retire.
If he is done, Drew put together a better career than you think he did. He hit .278/.384/.489 with 242 homers in his career and played some pretty snazzy defense until age caught up with him. He was much maligned as a slacker and malingerer, but most of that was based on the way he carried himself — he wasn’t a rah-rah guy — than on actual reports of him, say, not actually being hurt or not giving his best effort.
In some ways he was a victim of three things that often give guys a bad reputation with the media: (a) that lack of being a vocal leader type; (b) the fact that so much of his value came via unsexy things like plate discipline; and (c) that thing at the beginning of his career where he and his agent — Scott Boras — hatched the plot in which he refused to play for the Phillies.
You can say what you want about the business savvy of all of that, but it all added up to people viewing Drew’s baseball abilities far more harshly than they may have viewed a similar player who walked a different kind of walk.
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: