Stephen Drew literally had to flop his fractured ankle back into place while writhing around on the ground by home plate, and I couldn’t help but think in that moment, the Giants just won the division.
In an attempted feet-first slide into home plate, Drew’s right ankle bent a way that ankles are not supposed to bend. It was obvious the second it happened, he would be done for the season. The news was confirmed after the game, and the loss means so much more than just replacing a short-stop on the surprisingly competitive Diamondbacks roster.
Stephen Drew, through 86 games, was batting .252 with a .317 on-base percentage. He had 5 home runs, 45 RBI’s, and 44 runs scored. His average ranked him 7th among starting shortstops in the National League. His OBP ranked him 8th. No, Drew was not an offensive juggernaut, but he carried the weight of that team on his shoulders and provided so much more than the box score can ever show.
Like Matt Williams during his days with the Giants and later the Diamondbacks, Stephen Drew just quietly went about his business. He wasn’t a showboat, he didn’t complain. Simply, he was and is a professional. And he is the consummate teammate.
Any questions about how well-liked he is in the clubhouse could be put to bed just by looking at the Dbacks dugout anytime they were up to bat after Drew’s injury. Any chance the players got, they were down in the trainer’s room, checking on Drew.
Even with his injury, Drew can provide support from the bench, but it’s not the same as the leadership he provides out on the field, as the captain of the infield. Without him out there, the Diamondbacks are going to struggle. His business-like approach kept players grounded. He acted as a glue for clubhouse morale. When a player like him goes down, it affects everyone.
Now, the Giants have their opportunity to create some distance. They lost their star player earlier in the year, but Buster Posey was not yet a leader. Stephen Drew on the other hand has the experience and is no longer a boy among men in the league.
If the Diamondbacks want to continue to challenge for the National League West, they need a leader step up. They need someone to keep them together. They need to keep from breaking down.