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How Good Could Veteran San Francisco Giants Be?

Brandon Belt celebrates with SF Giants teammate Evan Longoria. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
Brandon Belt celebrates with SF Giants teammate Evan Longoria. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
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SF Giants, Brandon Crawford
Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Giants veterans looking to bounce back – Brandon Crawford

                    G      PA     AB    2B   3B   HR    AVG   OBP  SLG
2019       147   560  500    24    2     11    .228  .304  .350

Brandon Crawford was a far cry from the elite shortstop that formed a key piece of the Giants championship core in 2012 and 2014. Defensively Crawford has begun to show his age. He remains a competent shortstop, but without exceptional defense, even greater pressure fell on his bat to produce.

For his career, Crawford has consistently been a roughly league-average hitter (94+ OPS+). At his peak, from 2015-2016, Crawford combined his above-average power with a solid enough approach to be an above-average hitter.

In the years since though, Crawford has fallen off an offensive cliff, and Giants fans hope the bottom was 2019. Crawford managed to once again hit double-digit home runs but within the context of the juiced MLB baseball that’s far from exceptional. Crawford’s OPS of .654 in 2019 was the lowest mark since his first full season in 2012.

Yet even as difficult as his season was, Crawford still managed a productive 57 game stretch from late June to the beginning of September:

                      G      PA     AB    2B   3B   HR    AVG   OBP  SLG
7/25-9/5   57   216  193    10    1     6      .249   .329  .404

For better or worse for Giants fans, Crawford was quite consistent last year. Even in his best stretch of play, Crawford was more in-line with league-average production. Paced out over a full-season, his best run is just in-line with the  Crawford we saw from 2017-2018.

While underwhelming when thinking about his potential upside, it also might leave some hope that the Crawford of last year wasn’t that far off from the competent, roughly league-average hitter we saw in the years before.

Crawford’s walk, strikeout, and power rates were all nearly identical in 2018 and 2019, but a 28 point drop in Crawford’s Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) drove a large part of the disparity. While it’s clear Crawford is unlikely to return to his prime offensive production, there may be a reason to believe a marginal bounceback is in play.