Carl Crawford, Not Doing As Well As You Thought


I’m off the bandwagon

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Take one look at Carl Crawford‘s game log the past week, you might come away impressed. He’s hitting .448/.484/.483 which of course has been really good. Any time you can put up an on base percentage in the .400’s over a week’s span, you really deserve to be in the lineup consistently. Given how bad his struggles have been  this season before that, it’s quite easy to see why Don Mattingly spoke so highly of Crawford

"“Carl, before he got hurt, was probably swinging the bat better than anyone we had,” Mattingly said. “I feel like Carl’s going to get back to that.”"

Alright, Donnie. This pretty much guarantees Carl Crawford a starting spot on the postseason roster then, and while speculating on this stuff at this point is probably ill advised, the turnaround could possibly guarantee him a slot on next year’s team which disappoints me.

It’s not the “turnaround” disappoints me, it’s the fact the fact that we think Carl Crawford “found something” within this past week that has made him a different hitter. I’ll go ahead and say this:

Carl Crawford is the exact same hitter he was a week ago. And that’s not a very good thing either.

I could point to line drive percentage, and how unlucky he’s been recently, and that it was probably bound to turn around at some point. Well, hitting line drives 28.5% of the time normally leads to success. And given that he owned, a .262 batting average on balls put in play prior to this hot week seemed odd, especially because throughout his career he’s reached base safely 32.6% of the time when he put the ball in play. So lets see, a career high in line drives mixed with an unusually low batting average on the balls he puts in play (which includes all those line drives), that sure seems fluky.

So call it regression to the mean in Crawford’s case. There was no way Carl was going to be this bad of a hitter (wRC+ in the 70’s before August 10th), however there is significant cause for concern in multiple areas.

Simply because one hits the ball hard does not mean they are hitting for power. Crawford just turned 33 years old, and according to the ISO metric (which measures a hitter’s raw power, slugging percentage minus batting average), sits at  .092, the lowest since his second year. That’s 31 points lower than last season, and to put that into some kind of perspective, James Loney, Alcides Escobar, Leonys Martin, Denard Span, Martin Prado, Gerardo Parra all have hit for more raw power than Crawford.

So when accounting for injuries, soft/hard contact, the BABIP of  .293 seems low, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues positive regression somewhat towards his career average of a .326 BABIP, however the real concern here is the complete lack of power Crawford has exhibited this season. And that’s worrisome.

So lets run down the player we have:

A left handed player who is sure to get hurt once or twice a season with some sort of ailment to his lower body. Who is also strictly limited to left field, and has no semblance of an arm. Who’s walk rate, strikeout rate, and power are all going the wrong way, who shouldn’t be allowed to play versus lefties ever, and just turned 33.

Yeah I’m not very optimistic on Crawford’s future, lets hope Joc Pederson comes up September 1st and rakes because with Andre Ethier‘s sad decline, and Crawford’s continuing decline (3.6 fWAR in the past 4 years), left field is looking like something of a huge weakness on a team already without Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe.