Reviewing Brandon Crawford's 2013 season

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The community-projection reviews are almost done, at which point we'll shift into community projections. The circle of life. Maybe I should rebrand both of them because, goodness, those are boring names. I need to find something that translates to "Hey, let's talk about this guy today!", but, you know, catchy.

Here, then, is today's BRANDON CRAWFORD: ANSWER FOR THE THINGS YOU'VE DONE, which is a title that needs to be read in a Patrick Stewart voice.

Before we start, here's a number:

#5

That would be Crawford's rank in WAR among shortstops in the San Francisco Giants era. He's moved past Juan Uribe and Omar Vizquel, and he's gunnin' for Royce Clayton, whom he'll catch with a good year. It will take a few seasons to get to Rich Aurilia, but it's possible.

That's impressive for a shortstop who's had just two seasons as a starter. It's especially impressive for a player I never thought would be worth more than Eugenio Velez or Desi Relaford, but that's why I write posts about bobbleheads instead of actually work in a front office. Your daily reminder to be happy about that arrangement.

What I projected for Crawford:

Brandon Crawford (projected)
AB: 549
AVG: .238
OBP: .299
SLG: .351
HR: 5
LOCKS+: Flowing, with a chance of majestic

And the actual:

Brandon Crawford (actual)
AB: 499
AVG: .248
OBP: .311
SLG: .363
HR: 9
LOCKS+: Flowing and damned majestic indeed

If you'll remember, there was a brief moment of Crawfordmania early last year. He had a .511 slugging percentage and five home runs in April. There was speculation and a smattering of is-he-for-real? posts. Remember the hubbub surrounding Crawford's two-strike approach? There is just no way for early-season baseball writing not to look like a bad high-school haircut a year later. Of course it's all small sample size. Everything's small sample size these days.

That cuts both ways, though. Crawford's slash line in September: .148/.235/.213. The problem: possibly a freak oblique tweak. But probably samples. Samples samples samples. After the All-Star candidate of April and the Kirk Rueter of September, Brandon Crawford was who we thought he was. If you want to crown those magnificent locks, then crown them.

It's really hard to remember to look at Crawford's numbers in context. Heck, it's hard to look at the numbers for any Giants player in the proper context. We're all still getting used to the lower-offense era. And after years of pointing out that AT&T Park was a lot closer to a neutral park, it started playing like one of the most extreme pitcher's parks in history. So when you look at these numbers ...

.248/.311/.363

... it's easy to be unimpressed. Luckily, Baseball-Reference.com has a tool for that. Let's adjust his numbers to 2000 Pac Bell Park:

Screen_shot_2014-01-28_at_11

That's about right -- that's how I think of Crawford. If the Giants had an ace defensive shortstop hitting .272/.337/.394 back in 2000, he wouldn't have been controversial. He wouldn't have been a player of ambiguous value. Everyone would have thought he was a pretty-okay player, all things considered. A pretty-okay player who could stand to hit a little more, but unquestionably valuable.

I'll be honest: I was concerned 2012 was something of a fluke. And if a .653 OPS is a fluke, that means there is a tank of piranhas under that player, waiting to skeletonize him in 5.3 seconds. Luckily, the Crawford remained the same.  There were ups and downs that were exciting and distinctly unexciting, but he was, by the end of the season, a dependable player of sorts.

If he doesn't improve a lick next year, I'll still be thrilled to have him.

But if he wanted to improve a lick, well, okay.

I totally forgot what we were even talking about.

Brandon Crawford: As good as we thought, but not a droplet of WAR more. The extension talks will be contentious and/or interesting. But for now, he's continuing his run as an indisputably solid major-league shortstop, which is still something that takes a little getting used to.

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