Brandon Crawford has had worse months at the plate. That’s about the nicest thing I can say about the offensive contributions of our majestic shortstop. Crawford ended April with an OPS of .495. His slump has been easy to hide among the Giants who are caught in a three-way tie for worst wRC+ with Cleveland and Colorado. When no one is hitting, it’s hard to notice who is hitting the least. But that would be Crawford.
He’s hitting .198/.277/.218. He’s the only qualified Giant who hasn’t homered at least once. His only extra-base hits have been two doubles, and those both came in the first week of the season. His 25.9 percent strikeout rate would be the highest of his career. That’s all very concerning.
Crawford is not even a year removed from the best two month stretch of his career. Between May 1 and June 30 of last year, Crawford hit .372/.436/.602 with 8 home runs and 18 doubles. But since then, Crawford has been below the Mendoza line. He has a 45 wRC+ over his last 387 plate appearances. That’s nearly a full year of Jeff Mathis level production.
The good news is that his hard-hit rate hasn’t dipped from his career norms. His average exit velocity is consistent with what it’s been the last three years. His xwOBA is even 50 points higher than his wOBA, so he’s been bad, but he hasn’t been this bad. Even though he’s striking out more often, he’s only swinging and missing slightly more frequently, and he’s not chasing outside the strike zone.
The thing that he’s not doing is getting the ball in the air. His average launch angle is just 6.3 or a little more than half of what it normally is. He has hit just seven fly balls this season, and aside from one that died at the warning track, none were hit particularly hard.
Crawford doesn’t have to be the guy we saw last May and June—even if that would be rad as hell—he just needs to keep his OPS around .700. His defense is still great despite him being the slowest shortstop. I think he’s still capable of hitting like his normal self. He’s had stretches like this before, and nothing jumps out as being particularly alarming.
However, Crawford is the oldest qualified shortstop in baseball by two years. The shortstops who are older either haven’t been good or haven’t been able to stay on the field. The ones that aren’t Eric Sogard at least. Crawford’s hard-hit rate, contact rate, and ground ball rate are all just a smidge worse than they were last year and the year before. At 32, they don’t have to get better.
But his production doesn’t have to take a precipitous drop either. He can still be a decent hitter. It’s not a matter of if he’ll break out of his slump, but when will he snap out of it.