May 11, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (35) and center fielder Angel Pagan celebrate the Giants 7-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Crawford: The unsung hero of the San Francisco Giants

Apr 28, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (35) throws to first base against the San Diego Padres during the third inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Pence are typically the names that get thrown out there when speaking of the star, or the hero of the San Francisco Giants. Whilst the regulars continue to impress as the Giants top the West, a new hero within the franchise has emerged thus far this season. Defensive wizard and lefty crusher; Brandon Crawford.

With a career UZR – a statistic which measures the players defensive quality, effectively a defensive WAR – of 14.6 and having only committed a mere 15 errors at shortstop last season, Crawfords defensive abilities are highly touted. Plays like his inning ending, wonder throw against the Dodgers last night, have become a regular occurrence this year.

However, there is much, much more than what meets the eye with the Crawford. His bat, which is almost irrelevant give his defensive superlatives, has become a rather valuable piece in the Giants’ lineup.  Last season, Crawford really struggled with pitches, well almost anywhere except up and away. This season, Crawford is hitting from all parts of the plate, making him a very tough out.

Furthermore, what most people don’t realise is that Crawford hits in the toughest spot in the lineup. Whilst hitting eighth is normally considered a low pressure spot, having to hit in front of the pitcher is extremely difficult. Unlike any other spot in the lineup, Crawford faces the inevitability that he has to get it done because, well, pitchers don’t hit.

In the past two seasons, Crawford has combined for 15 home runs. In only 36 games and 115 ABs this season, Crawford has launched four home runs. Last season Crawford totalled 43 runs batted in, providing he plays in the same amount of games as last year, he is on to total 70 runs batted in this year. You notice the trend? It’s quite simply actually, Crawford is hitting like he never has before.

Before the season began, the biggest concern was as to whether Crawford could hit sufficiently against lefties. This season Crawford hasn’t hit sufficiently against lefties, he has been destroying lefties. His slash line of .419/.500/.821 is a ridiculous amount higher than it has ever been. In his first three years in the majors, Crawford managed four home runs against lefties, he already has three this season.

Whilst Mike Morse, Tim Hudson, Posey, among others may be receiving the biggest fanfare this season, don’t forget Crawford. If the shortstop continues to play like he has so far, he will definitely have a career year in almost every area. Brandon Crawford is truly the unsung hero of the San Francisco Giants.

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