May 01, 2011
The Red Sox got a much-needed win over Seattle on Sunday, and Carl Crawford(notes) was in the middle of it. His ninth-inning single plated Jed Lowrie(notes) with the winning run. Crawford finished the day 2-for-4; April's zero had become May's hero.
"It's been a while since I felt this good," Crawford conceded after the game. "It's been tough on me; I can't sit here and act like it hasn't been. But you try to minimize that and keep positive thoughts in your head."
We're deep enough into the season, gamer - it's time to get a status check on Crawford. Are you in or are you out?
Boston manager Terry Francona still doesn't know where to slot Crawford in the lineup; the skipper has tried five different slots through 27 games (leadoff, second, third, seventh, eighth). Conventional wisdom says that Crawford is only hitting seventh and eighth at the moment because he's slumping, but it's difficult to find a spot in this order where he really fits. The team already is loaded with left-handed hitters (Adrian Gonzalez(notes), Jacoby Ellsbury(notes), J.D. Drew(notes), David Ortiz(notes)) and you don't want to order them in a row if you can - it's a gift to any team with quality southpaws. And Crawford has never hit well against left-handed pitching to begin with.
Hit Crawford leadoff? He'd prefer not to and he's never been an OBP machine. Bat Crawford second? That pushes Gonzalez to fourth and it probably means you have to bury Ellsbury. Bat Crawford third? Not enough power. Keep him in the bottom third? Seems a little funny to have your $142 million man there, but lately that's been the plan. Boston's ideal lineup should keep Crawford there against lefties anyway.
Crawford was a lofty fantasy pick in March, going somewhere in the 8-20 range in most groups. Where would you pick him today? What's the most you'd offer for Crawford in trade right now? If you own Crawford, what's the worst player you'd move him for, 1-for-1? What lineup slot do you see him settling in?
I'm bearish on Crawford for a few reasons. He's never hit much in Fenway Park (.256/.284/.378 entering Sunday), and while the Boston staff had a role in that, he hit .290 and slugged .480 against the Red Sox in Tampa. I think there's a chance he might spend a chunk of his time in a crummy lineup slot. He's never hit 20 homers in a season, and he's never faced as much pressure as he's currently facing (as much as I love Boston, it's a fishbowl city that puts tremendous expectations on its ballplayers). Maybe that final point means nothing, perhaps it's just a flimsy reason, but algorithms don't play the games, human beings do.
If I were walking into a new draft starting today, I'd probably let someone else have Crawford unless the price got ridiculously cheap (an outfield shuffle is coming soon). I expect him to start producing like a quality player soon enough, but I don't expect to see a fantasy superstar. Share in the comments how you'd project Crawford from May 2 forward (ignore the first month). I'll go first; this is my fearless forecast for Crawford the rest of the way .281-75-11-51-32.
Batter up. Let's figure this out.