Okay, fine, the Giants should do something about Brandon Crawford's slump. They should make sure he gets the coaching he needs, some rest when it's appropriate, and access to all the video he needs. Which is all exactly what's happening, I would guess. A better answer to the question in the headline is "Be patient," and I don't think that's something the Giants need to be told.
Here's the slump, in gory, not-safe-for-work details:
Garraggghfh. That is so bad, so very bad. If that streak happened at the beginning of the year, he might already have been benched. Remember that because we're going to come back to that idea.
Here's why the Giants shouldn't panic:
He's Brandon Crawford. For better or for worse. Sometimes, much worse. In the first half of the season, much better. But the Giants know what he is, and that's a shortstop good enough to start. It's a shortstop who's not good enough to build around, but if he's the biggest problem on the team in a season, that team is probably exceptionally talented. We're also harder on Crawford because of the low-offense era and low-offense park, don't forget.
This isn't to say that Crawford isn't screwed up right now -- he most certainly is. He's already blown past his career mark in strikeouts, striking out in 24 percent of his plate appearances, which is well over the MLB average, and he's hitting far more balls in the air than he has over his career. That's a problem when the power is fringey and the ballpark is vast, but it's more indicative of something being off with his swing. Something's screwed up.
There are about 1,500 plate appearances that suggest it will get fixed. He'll streak again before he slumps, and then he'll slump again until he streaks. The statistics will probably look the same after it's all over. This is exactly the reason we pay attention to statistics instead of our eyeballs. Trends and streaks mess with our abilities to analyze and be objective. Give me a record -- a sample of hundreds of at-bats that include the screwed-ups and the feelin'-fines, putting them all in the context of a single season. That's the best way to avoid freaking out when things are screwy, and it's the best way to avoid making a snap judgment you'll regret.
This all applies to Crawford's defense, too, which has been remarkably shaky, for him. He's already set a career mark in errors, and the mesmerizing plays aren't coming with quite the regularity as they have in the past. But if we're going to preach patience with batting average and on-base percentage, the same is absolutely true with fielding, where the chances are fewer and even more prone to small-sample chicanery. In the early months of 2012, Crawford was having another fielding slump, and I gave up on him because of it. It was too soon.
He's not great. He's just pretty okay. And for a franchise that's spent decades between pretty-okay shortstops, that's great until something better comes along. It's not the time to be taking risks, though. It's not the time to look wistfully at Ehire Adrianza and wonder if he can develop. His potential-spectrum tops out with what Crawford has already done, and there's a 100-foot waterslide of worse below what the Giants have gotten from shortstop over the last three years.
I'll go a step further: This is probably the best possible time to explore an extension. See if he'll take three years of guaranteed money in a season that ends with a miserable slump. He probably would prefer to sell high on himself, and he probably has the confidence to do so, but it's an idea worth exploring. I'd love to know what would have happened if the Giants offered $75 million to Pablo Sandoval when he was hitting .001/.001/.001 back in May.
As is, I'm worried about Crawford, but no more than the typical slumping player. The Giants should be patient. They will be patient. And as a leading online voice of the online Giants community, command you to be patient, too. Command you. He'll probably be fine.
It sure is ugly to watch, though. Sure is ugly to watch while it's going on.
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