Longtime SF Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford could be coming to the end of his tenure in San Francisco. It is hard to live up to the expectations that he set in his MLB debut when he hit a grand slam against the Milwaukee Brewers, but he did just that.
SF Giants: Thank you, Brandon Crawford
Crawford lived out his childhood dream. He grew up a Giants fan and was selected in the fourth round of the 2008 draft out of UCLA by San Francisco. He made his major league debut on May 27, 2011, and had a memorable first impression against the Brewers.
It was a sign of things to come. Crawford was about as clutch of a hitter as they come. Whether it was the countless regular-season walkoff hits or a grand slam against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014 in an elimination game on the road that silenced the crowd. This would be one of the many memories from an improbable title run.
For the past 13 years, the veteran shortstop has been the model of consistency. He was someone you could count on to be in the lineup each day, make the improbable plays, and give an all-out effort. Crawford never took a day off.
He was the human highlight reel with his defense at shortstop. Crawford took home four Gold Glove awards, earned three All-Star selections, and was a part of two World Series teams. Championship-caliber teams just do not win without excellent defense and that usually starts with who is at shortstop. For years, Giants fans were comforted by the sight of Crawford at shortstop as they knew he would make every play hit his way and some plays we just did not think a shortstop could possibly make.
It is a little surprising to reflect back on it now how Crawford only has four Gold Glove awards next to his name because it feels like he deserves way more than that. That is baseball sometimes. He was arguably the best defensive shortstop in the National League during the 2010's.
I would be remiss in not bringing up his improbable 2021 campaign in which he helped lead the Giants to a franchise-record 107 wins. Crawford had a resurgent season both with the glove and in the batter's box. He finished in fourth place in the NL MVP voting that season. To a lot of people, he was the true MVP as he was the best player on the best team that year. The Giants just do not have the historic season they did without his contributions.
It is impossible to capture exactly what he meant to Giants fans over these past 13 seasons. He is a fan favorite, an All-Star, and a World Series champion. He is the greatest shortstop in Giants history. So many memories during his career that Giants fans will remember for years to come.
More important than baseball, Crawford is an excellent ambassador to the game. He has been nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award three times for his positive contributions to baseball on and off the field. This includes working with Giants foundations in support of growing baseball among the local youth community.
Plus, he took home the 2023 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award presented by the Phi Delta Theta fraternity for his generous philanthropic efforts. And, of course, he received the Willie Mac Award in 2016 for his leadership and character.
There are few players in baseball who have experienced the type of success on the field he has, but importantly, he demonstrated time and again that he is an even better person. At the time of writing this, Crawford has been signing autographs all morning for fans who are there to see him play one more time.
The 36-year-old enters an uncertain period as his contract expires at the end of this season. What he does next can be figured out later. Today is all about him. He will always be a San Francisco Giant and it has been a hell of a ride. I cannot think of anything else to say but to take a moment to thank him again for what he has done for the Giants and what he means to the organization and its fans.