San Francisco Giants: Brandon Crawford Should Be in MVP Conversation
The San Francisco Giants have one of the leading All-Star vote getters in all of the National League when it comes to Brandon Crawford. They also have a viable MVP candidate in B-Craw as well.
Brandon Crawford has been nothing short of stellar for the last two months. He put behind his worst first month of his career, and is now firmly cemented in the best season of his career. His work on defense, as well as at the plate has helped keep the San Francisco Giants in the thick of it while star names dropped like flies around him, thanks to injury or significant slumps.
Sunday’s big homer off of Scherzer seemed like he was not only asserting himself into the forefront of the All-Star conversation, but into the forefront of the MVP conversation as well.
It’s early. I get it. It’s hard to talk 100% seriously about “MVP Candidates.” Oh wait, it’s the middle of June! Of course we should be talking about MVP Candidates! By the way, Brandon Crawford is definitely one of them.
Before the season even started, MLB.Com’s Mike Petriello made his list of the Top 10 Shortstops in baseball. Surprisingly, Crawford was left off that list. They dinged him because his offense wasn’t great last year, despite winning his third consecutive NL Gold Glove, in the midst of his most trying year off the field.
Of course they’re still continuing that notion that he wouldn’t even be in the Top 10 short stops in baseball with his current play:
That’s an insane thing to ask right now, and clearly his teammates feel that way as well:
I doubt Crawford paid much attention to lists like that this offseason. But he clearly has debunked their concerns about his bat. In 2016, Crawford posted a 5.4 fWAR, his highest of his career. So far he’s amassed a 2.4 fWAR, which surpasses his fWAR for all of 2017. Now, WAR is a flawed stat and doesn’t quite tell us what exactly he’s doing and how much better he is than everyone else at it. So let’s look at a few numbers that tell the Crawford “story” for 2018.
First up is wRC+. Yeah, it sounds like another flawed stat that has a lot of issues, but hear me out. It does a great job of putting offensive production on an even scale, with neutralizing ballpark factors playing into it as well. Every number above 100 is a percentage point above league average that they are creating runs.
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Crawford’s wRC+ is a whopping 150, meaning he’s producing runs at a rate 50% better than the league average player. For comparison, the names that are above him in that category are: Manny Machado, Aaron Judge, J.D. Martinez, Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and plenty of other studs. Machado is the only shortstop with a higher wRC+ in all of baseball.
To slide away from the Saber-Metrics category, and into dealing with absolutes, Crawford has the second highest batting average (.338) for shortstops in baseball, and he isn’t that far off from the league leader in Mookie Betts (.359). Crawford’s insane pace has him shooting up the charts, again, after batting under the Mendoza line for almost an entire month.
The last one is hard to judge against other players, as there isn’t a database that would really take this info and put it into a rank-able scale. But by taking a look at the Fangraphs, inside edge fielding numbers, you see just how good defensively Crawford has been this year.
The inside edge fielding report has him making plays on balls that have a more than 90% hit probability, at 5% of the time. So he’s making next to impossible plays. Cool. What’s better is that he is consistently making plays on balls that he has a less than 60% chance at making a play on. He’s been fantastic with the glove all season long, and that should be taken into account as well.
Next: What do the Giants need at the Deadline?
While it may be June, it still isn’t too early to throw Brandon Crawford into the MVP discussion. He belongs there with his performance so far this year. Whether he wins or not is one thing. But he’s certainly proved he deserves to be a part of that conversation in 2018.