Projecting Brandon Crawford's 2014 season

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

How will the hairy, glovey cult hero do this season?

This was scheduled to be a community projection for Marco Scutaro, but at the moment, my projection would look something like this:

AB: 2
HR: 0
AVG: .500
OBP: .500
SLG: .500

But I don't want to be the homer projecting a 1.000 OPS, and two whole at-bats seem a little optimistic, so I'll just wait for Scutaro to play in a game before starting his projection. Instead, today is about the newly hirsute Brandon Crawford. Let's project what his 2014 season will look like.

You: Probably the same as last season, jackass.

That's just rude. There are two things to keep in mind with Crawford. The first is that he's 27 now, and that's when BIll James found that hitters peaked. Actually, that's not what he said, and other people disagree with the age-27 bit altogether, but I'm preferring to accept the popular misinterpretation. Age-27 magic, here we come!

The second thing to keep in mind is that Crawford has gotten better over the last two years, according to OPS+:

2012: 86
2013: 96

If you're into math, like I am, you've already spotted the pattern.

Screen_shot_2014-02-26_at_1


Seems accurate. But you know statistics. They can prove anything. Something about that career path doesn't seem quite right. We should probably investigate further. There are three options:

a. Brandon Crawford is actually the hitter who hit .234/.291/.327 in Triple-A, the universe is going to make a wild correction, and he's going to be awful.

b. Brandon Crawford is secretly Brandon Crawford, which means he'll surprise us all by hitting just like Brandon Crawford for the next couple years. (We will not be surprised.)

c. Brandon Crawford still has latent projected-first-round-pick tools buried in his chest cavity, and he's going to morph into something more.

So ... the second one, then. The other two are equally ridiculous, by which I mean that they each have teeny tiny chances of actually happening. But, then again, that's the exact same chance I gave Crawford of hitting better than Neifi Perez in the first place, so it looks like he's full of surprises.

Community Projections

He is out of surprises. He's going to have a low average and low OBP that aren't exciting, but once you account for park and the pitcher-friendly era, he'll be just dandy for a defense-first shortstop.

Except, hold on. Before we get to the boring numbers, I want to find one player, dang it. I want to find one shortstop who started with the Crawford career path and then exploded into something, I don't know, more.

I found two. And I'm going to irrationally believe Crawford is going to turn into one of them.

The first is this guy:

Age AB BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
23 590 .258 .311 .312 .623 82
24 587 .211 .260 .262 .522 48
25 609 .230 .313 .276 .589 71
26 450 .222 .294 .256 .549 62
27 488 .248 .339 .314 .653 84
28 552 .243 .321 .335 .657 82
29 412 .257 .347 .337 .684 95
30 537 .276 .355 .361 .716 101


Started off even worse than Crawford, but eventually turned into a high-OBP guy to help with his stellar defense, not unlike Omar Vizquel. Those stats belong to brand-name Omar Vizquel, Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

The second is this guy:

Age AB BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
23 29 .276 .323 .310 .633 76
24 560 .273 .306 .388 .693 87
25 658 .286 .331 .348 .679 87
26 636 .288 .343 .381 .723 99
27 599 .306 .338 .422 .760 108
28 495 .319 .389 .428 .818 117
29 613 .303 .361 .409 .771 114
30 548 .316 .386 .462 .848 137


Not only did this guy add some OBP, but he found some power to boot. This would be Julio Franco. So, in conclusion:

1. Brandon Crawford is probably going to the Hall of Fame, like Ozzie Smith.

2. Brandon Crawford is probably playing until he's 48 years old, like Julio Franco.

Ignore the Alex Cora comps on his Baseball-Reference.com page, and focus on the outliers. They're probably right. With them in mind, let's project Brandon Crawford:

Brandon Crawford
AB: 534
AVG: .243
OBP: .317
SLG: .370
HR: 10
SB: 1
CS: 2

I'm not really going to base my comp on those outliers, you fools. I have a reputation to uphold.

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