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Brandon Crawford had his worst year at the plate and in the field

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The 2019 highlight reel for the Giants shortstop is a little shorter than usual.

Pittsburgh Pirates v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

.228/.304/.350, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 74 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR

Brandon Crawford’s 2018 season started as poorly as anyone’s. He hit .189 through the first month, but then he got hot. From May through the end of June, Crawford hit .372/.436/.602 for a 179 wRC+. Two months of playing like an MVP canceled out the one month of playing like Chris Davis, and he earned an All-Star selection.

A knee injury derailed Crawford’s season, and the rest of the way, Crawford fell back into the hole in which he began the season. It was easy enough to explain away the bad parts of Crawford’s 2018. Lots of players have slow starts, and it’s nigh impossible to compete with the best players in the world when your body won’t co-operate. While those highs of May and June weren’t sustainable, they showed that Crawford still had something left.

So, when Crawford began 2019 just as terribly—he hit .198 through April—it was easy to dismiss. Assuming the knee felt okay, Crawford would turn things around eventually. He might even get hot again.

Well, the above stat line gives away what happened. Crawford did not get hot unless you count an .814 OPS in July as hot and that was buoyed by a three-homer game at Coors Field Through the end of the first half, Crawford just hit like a glove-first shortstop before disappearing entirely in the final two months of the season.

That might not be so bad if Crawford were still a glove-first shortstop. Crawford wasn’t bad in the field this year, but it’s hard to say that he was great either. Even going by the eye test, one would suspect that Crawford has lost something with the glove. I’m trying to think of what would compose Brandon Crawford’s 2019 defensive highlight reel, and aside from that sliding catch against the railing and that game-saving play in Arizona, I’m drawing a blank.

Maybe that’s just because my memory is bad, but the metrics corroborate this, too. This was Crawford’s worst year by defensive runs saved at zero. Defensive metrics are admittedly wonky, but Crawford hasn’t been elite since 2016.

Crawford’s best days at the plate being in the rearview would be easier to stomach if he were still dazzling on the field. If his defense has slipped, it’s hard to think of ways he can help a team win.

Writing that last sentence bummed me out, so here, watch some of Crawford’s best moments from 2019.

Like his three-homer game.

Or that game-saving play.

Or this reaction when he caught Mauricio Dubón staring at him.

Role on the 2019 Team

Every baseball team needs a “wet guy,” and for the 2019 Giants, that was Brandon Crawford. No one else could even approach Crawford’s level of saturation.

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Role on the 2020 Team

With Mauricio Dubón up, it’s hard to see Crawford starting every day. Sitting him against lefties would make sense, but Crawford doesn’t have platoon splits really (.305 career wOBA against righties, .300 against lefties). Depending on who the Giants pick up as a backup infielder, he’ll serve as a late inning defensive replacement.

Crawford has a full no-trade clause, so the Giants can’t dump his salary unless Crawford really wants to leave his childhood team for a shot at more playing time. I’d think the front office would want to see what Crawford can do when only put in positions to succeed before they consider cutting ties with him.

How ‘Farhan’ is Brandon Crawford?

A slow, expensive, offensively limited shortstop whose best days in the field are behind him? Well, that’s half a Farhan.