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Catching up with Giants shortstop, MVP candidate Brandon Crawford originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
With the sport in a lockout, transactions frozen and the Winter Meetings canceled, the most star-studded event of the MLB offseason might have come late last year when the Crawfords renewed their vows in Hawaii. Many of Brandon Crawford's current and former teammates made the trip, along with brother-in-law (and AL Cy Young runner-up) Gerrit Cole and NL MVP Bryce Harper.
The ceremony capped a huge year for the homegrown shortstop, who set career highs across the board while finishing fourth in the MVP voting and reclaiming the Gold Glove Award. In the middle of the year, Crawford and the Giants easily found common ground on a two-year deal that will keep him in orange and black through at least 13 seasons and his 36th birthday.
No. 35 has been around for a sneaky-long time at this point, and a few days before turning 35 on Friday, he spoke with NBC Sports Bay Area about being a Giant into his late 30s, his big season, life during a lockout and a son who might keep the Crawford name in the big leagues even longer:
When you were breaking into the big leagues in 2011, what did you think your career would look like at 35?
"At that point I don't think I was really thinking about it. I was 24 and at the start of the year was kind of knocking on the door to the big leagues and hoping to get up that year and eventually did. I guess at that point in baseball, 35-year-olds were still at least somewhat common around the league, so I was probably hopeful that I would still be playing at 35.
"I wouldn't say there were a ton of them, but there were a decent amount and some of them were still playing middle infield. At that point I was 24 and feeling great. It was like, yeah, no problem playing until I'm 35."
What does it mean to you to be the oldest everyday shortstop in the big leagues?
"I had let the beard go a little bit and I was just trimming it up -- there are a lot of grays. In the real world I'm not old, I know that, but in baseball, it's a younger and younger game it seems like every year. I'm definitely proud of the fact that I'm about to be 35 and still an everyday, productive shortstop in the big leagues."
Aside from pitching in a game, is there anything you haven't done in the big leagues that you'd like to?
"Yeah, I would like to get an inning at some point. Other than that, I don't know. That's all I can really think of, and even that I know is maybe not realistic as long as I'm still being productive and useful to the team being an everyday player. It's probably not very likely, but I do think it would be fun at some point."
What was your reaction to finishing that high in the MVP voting?
"I was a little surprised at fourth. Not necessarily saying I didn't deserve to be there -- without trying to sound cocky or anything like that, I had a really good year and I'm glad that voters not only looked at my offensive production, but I'm guessing a lot of their votes went into the defensive side also and how I helped our team win from that side of the ball.
"I was maybe a little bit surprised because I feel like a lot of voters typically go straight to the offense, look at the OPS and just go straight from there. But it was nice to see that at least a decent amount of people didn't do that."
You talked last year about how part of your resurgence might have come from being stuck in Scottsdale all winter because of the pandemic and working out constantly at the Giants facility. What does your preparation look like now during a lockout when you can't go there?
"The lockout definitely makes it tougher from that standpoint. That's part of the reason why we moved down here to Scottsdale is not only that we get six to eight weeks extra at home during spring training -- and we love Scottsdale, so there are a couple of reasons -- but one of the reasons was that I was able to go into the facility and get our workouts in and have our strength coach, our training staff all down there helping me out. It definitely makes it a little tougher this offseason.
"I've managed and when we've been on a couple of trips I've been able to just go into the hotel facility and work out, maybe not use the same equipment we have at our facility but you can kind of make something up as you go and work the same muscles just with slightly different equipment. When we're at home I go into a gym that a former minor league strength coach works at, so I'm kind of lucky there."
You would usually be working out this time of year with all the other Scottsdale residents like Evan Longoria and teammates who showed up early. How much are you in touch with your teammates during the lockout?
"I've definitely still been in contact and seen and hung out with a few guys. We're still allowed to talk to each other, we just can't talk to any of the staff. I've talked to Longo and we're starting to throw and hit and stuff like that. Typically it probably would have happened already at the facility because it's a lot easier there to get in a lift, get in your conditioning and then throw and hit right there on the field. It makes it a little tougher where both of us are working out -- he's at a different place but it's pretty similar. We're able to get our lift in and our agility and stuff like that but there's not a field where we can throw or hit. We're starting to make it work and ramp that up now."
Whenever you guys resume, you'll be without Buster for the first time in a regular spring training. Does that make you feel like you have to take on a different role in the clubhouse?
"I haven't thought about it a whole lot but I don't plan on changing anything I'm going to be doing. Could we potentially have some more younger guys that want advice on something come up to me or Belt? Yeah, sure, that might happen, but I feel like I've been prepared for that for years now. I probably won't change a whole lot about how I go about being in the clubhouse or the dugout."
Logan Webb was at your vow renewal and also recently at your son's birthday party. Coming off his breakout year, what changes have you seen from him this offseason?
"He's kind of still the same guy. Maybe there's just a little bit more confidence in general, but he's still the same guy: just goofy."
Who ends up with more big-league homers, you or Braxton?
"I didn't have that swing when I was six years old. As long as no hitting gurus mess with him, I think we'll be alright."
Brandon Crawfordâs six-year-old son hit an absolute nuke off him pic.twitter.com/6UWnlp151m
— Talkinâ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) January 16, 2022
In all seriousness, you play against guys like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- have you started to dream at all about what your kids might accomplish?
"I've thought about it a little just because all Braxton has thought about for years now is playing baseball. He wants to play baseball when he's older and play in the big leagues. He's been saying that for years, so it makes me think about it a little bit, but at the same time he just turned six so it's not like I'm planning out his future or anything like that.
"I taught him how to swing the bat when he was first able to walk and picking up bats and balls, so I taught him the basics, but he does a lot of really advanced things with his swing -- like I said, he just turned six so I'm not talking advanced hitting mechanics with my six-year-old, but he does them already just by watching and he pays so much attention to my swing, to other guys' swings around the league, and he mimics them and then kind of just ends up naturally doing some really advanced, good things with his swing. So I just haven't said anything. I just let him keep doing it."
He already has your new swing figured out ...
"Yeah he kind of had the open stance with the hands out away from his body. He had a little scissor kick with his back leg, which is stuff that guys learn way later on. That was a big thing for Darin Ruf. I don't know if that was something he learned (in the KBO) or was something he worked on a lot when he came back with us, but that's something that he works on all the time. It's funny seeing these little things in (Braxton's) swing.
"He has a really good bat path -- stuff that I've worked on the last two years time and time again and he's just doing it naturally, so it's pretty funny to see. I watched that swing in slow-motion like 100 times."