Now that the 2013 season is complete, it’s time to take a look back at the team and how each player performed on the field. After focusing on the infield in the first part of our recaps, today we shift our attention to the outfield with Indians’ Opening Day right fielder, Drew Stubbs.
Drew Stubbs’ 2013 Projection:
Drew Stubbs was brought to Cleveland last winter as part of the Shin-Soo Choo trade that also netted the Indians top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer and relief pitcher Bryan Shaw. Projected to be the Tribe’s new everyday right fielder, a lot was expected of Stubbs. That came as nothing new for the one time, first round draft pick. High expectations had followed him throughout his young career and heading into 2013 he had yet to really live up to them.
Many fans were skeptical of the Stubbs acquisition. While there was no denying his raw talent, there was the glaring issue of strikeouts and what type of negative impact they would have on the Indians. After all, Stubbs already owned some of the highest single season strikeout totals in the history of Major League Baseball. However, what Stubbs lacked in plate discipline and ability to make contact, he had more than made up for with speed and defensive prowess. If nothing else, Stubbs would serve as a legitimate upgrade in right over Choo and provide the Indians with the best defensive outfield in all of baseball.
There was also the outside chance that Stubbs’ career could take off in Cleveland. Throughout his time in Cincinnati with the Reds he had routinely been inserted into the lead-off spot in the batting order. While he seemed like the prototypical lead-off hitter thanks to his speed and base stealing abilities, he lacked the OBP necessary to adequately fill the role. In Cleveland, Stubbs could bat eighth or ninth with significantly less pressure and perhaps relax a bit at the plate.
So What Happened?:
While Stubbs did very little to impress anyone at the plate, he did play solid defense in the outfield and provided Terry Francona with some much-needed flexibility. Because Stubbs could be shifted back and forth from right field to center field and back again, Francona was able to rest Michael Bourn and also fill in for him when he was injured without missing much of a beat. So from that standpoint, Stubbs was everything we thought he would be.
That said, Stubbs did not impress anyone offensively. And while he did almost match his average projections from the table above, it wasn’t enough to keep him on the field and in the lineup on a full-time basis. Thanks to the emergence of Ryan Raburn, Stubbs was relegated to part-time duty, filling in mostly as a defensive replacement or pinch runner in late inning situations. Also, much like Michael Bourn, Stubbs experienced a significant drop in stolen bases. It was the first time since his debut season of 2009 that he failed to swipe at least 30 bags.
Needless to say, it wasn’t what anyone had hoped for when Stubbs was brought to Cleveland, but his performance was by no means the worst turned in by the Indians this past season. Stubbs was a solid contributor and continued to do what was asked of him even when he lost playing time to other, more deserving players.
Where Do We Go From Here?:
Drew Stubbs’ performance did not make him indispensable by any means. While there is a serious amount of untapped potential here, it does seem somewhat likely that Stubbs could be traded this offseason. He fell out of favor early on in the season and never did anything to really fight his way back into the everyday lineup. If his role on the team moving forward is that of defensive replacement/pinch runner/fourth outfielder, the Indians could probably find that in a cheaper alternative.
There is also the fact that Stubbs does have some value on the open market to other teams. He is a fantastic defensive outfielder, particularly in center, and is under team control until 2016. He could be a significant piece in bringing the Indians back a starting pitcher or quality prospects. It’s the same type of hypothetical scenario presented in the Michael Bourn recap yesterday. For the right price, to the right team, there is no reason for the Indians to not at least consider moving Stubbs.
During the Indians 14 inning marathon against the Angels back in August, Drew Stubbs hit what turned out to be the game winning two-run home run. It was one of the real shining moments for Stubbs in 2013 and one not many of us will soon forget.