Is Brandon Crawford the San Francisco Giants’ shortstop of the future?
By Jacob Fagan
By recent popular demand, no he isn’t. But when he makes a fabulous play or smashes a triple into right center field, he is. Emotions are flipped every game for Brandon Crawford, but what is the answer?
Let’s start with 2014. He ranks 13th in all shortstops in WAR with 2.4 and 8th in wRC+. With runners on base he has an OPS of .822 and with runners in scoring position he has an OPS of .875. Where he plummets is when the bases are empty. He has an OPS of .603 and a wRC+ of 77. Needless to say, Crawford is more comfortable when he has runners to drive in.
Defensively, Crawford leads the majors in errors and that is scaring many people, but that is not the most important aspect of defense. Range and smart plays are important. He has 4 defensive runs saved this year, which ranks 7th among shortstops, 14th in UZR, 5th in OOZ( plays made out of zone), and 14th in overall defensive rating, according to FanGraphs.
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Well, you ask, is he progressing? Crawford has a career slash of .240/.309/.356 with a .665 OPS. Arrrgggg that is bad. What most haven’t noticed is his development every season at the plate. His wRC+ has increased every season since 2011: 68, 82, 92, and now 99 this season. His OPS+ by year has been 67, 86, 94, and now 101. His OPS has increased every season as well: .584,.653,.674, and now .701. His WAR has gone from 0.5, 2.4, 2.1, and now 2.4. It is easy to see that his bat is developing every year and could see a spike next year as he enters his fourth full season as the Giants shortstop.
The 27-year old is poised to have a breakout 2015 season if his numbers trend like they should. If the Giants feel his progression is good enough to be their shortstop of the future, this would be the best time to work out an extension. He is due to be a free agent after the 2017 season and locking him up for three years of guaranteed money could be best for both. If he has a breakout season in 2015, he will likely earn up to $8 million in arbitration, but if he signs an extension he will likely be buying out two arbitration years at a low price and one free agent year.
San Francisco sits at 82-65, one game back of the Dodgers for the National League West division. They took game one from Los Angeles Friday as Crawford led the way with an RBI double and a two-run homer. You can read the game recap here. Zack Greinke (14-8, 2.73) and Tim Hudson (9-10, 3.12) face off in game two Saturday as the Giants could move into a share of the division with a win.