Shortstop Brandon Crawford still has two years remaining on his contract. How does he fit into the future plans for the San Francisco Giants?
The 32-year-old is one of the “core” players from the team’s run to three World Series titles in five seasons. Since 1975, the New York Yankees are the only other team to capture that many World Series titles in a five-year span, winning four during the five-year span from 1996 to 2000.
However, we’re now five years removed from the team’s last title and three years removed from the last postseason appearance.
During the 2019 season, the Giants ranked 28th in the majors in runs scored, with only the Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers—two teams that combined for 219 losses—behind them in that category.
If the Giants hope to be playing meaningful baseball next September, scoring more runs is going to be a necessity.
That brings us back to Crawford, who had one of the worst seasons of his MLB career in 2019. He finished the year batting .228/.304/.350 with just 37 extra-base hits and a 75 OPS+ in 560 plate appearances.
Among the 25 shortstops who tallied enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, Crawford ranked 23rd with 58 runs scored. Crawford scored a run every 9.6 plate appearances. By comparison, teammate Donovan Solano touched home plate once every 8.4 plate appearances.
Among that same group of 25 shortstops, he ranked 20th with 59 RBI. That amounted to one RBI ever 9.9 plate appearances. Using Solano as an example once again, he drove home a run every 9.4 plate appearances.
Why are we referencing Donovan Solano?
The veteran utility man earned just $429,696 in 2019, while Crawford took home $15.2 million as the fifth-highest paid player on the San Francisco Giants roster, according to Spotrac.
So with a diminished offensive game, what is Crawford’s role going forward on a team in serious need of an offensive facelift?
With the new front office fond of the platoon approach, it might make sense at surface level for the left-handed-hitting Crawford to be used exclusively against right-handed pitching in an effort to maximize his production.
However, his splits don’t necessarily speak to any sort of advantage based on the handedness of the pitcher:
- vs RHP: 412 PA, .225/.313/.361, 10 HR, 50 RBI
- vs LHP: 148 PA, .236/.277/.321, 1 HR, 9 RBI
So where does that leave us?
Crawford is one of the most beloved San Francisco Giants players of all-time.
He was raised in the Bay Area as a Giants fan and is a homegrown product who played a significant role in the 2012 and 2014 World Series championships. There’s always going to be a fair amount of emotion at play when it comes to discussing his future.
There is no doubt that he still has one of the best gloves in MLB, and with a $15.2 million salary coming his way in 2020 and 2021, he’s not going anywhere.
However, if team president Farhan Zaidi doesn’t find ways to bring this team more offense, the Giants may have to consider a diminished role for Crawford going forward, with him sharing time with Solano and exciting young infielder Mauricio Dubon up the middle.
A bounce-back season from Brandon Crawford would go a long way for the San Francisco Giants. Otherwise, he could become an expensive platoon player.