The reviews of the San Francisco Giants are marching right along, and today is a fun one: shortstop Brandon Crawford.
54 games, 193 plate appearances, .256/.326/.465, .792 OPS, 8 home runs, 28 RBI, 15 walks to 47 strikeouts
116 OPS+, 112 wRC+, 1.2 rWAR, 1.0 fWAR
Status throughout the season
Crawford began the year on the Opening Day roster, and stayed on the roster all season long.
Crawford was not supposed to have a good season. There’s really no way around that. He’s been steadily declining, and in 2019 graded out as just 74% as good as the average hitter (per both OPS+ and wRC+) with good but no longer great defense.
He was supposed to platoon at shortstop — likely with Mauricio Dubón — and hopefully provide enough sparkles that it didn’t depress us. He’s a franchise legend, of course, and nothing can undo that. He could go 0-109 to start the year and it wouldn’t change that he he was a childhood Giants fan turned staple of the greatest era of San Francisco baseball, and the greatest shortstop in franchise history.
You hoped he wouldn’t go 0-109, but you weren’t all that rosy. If you don’t believe me, check out Bryan Murphy’s projection from earlier in the year, and read the community projections in the comments. Just lovely.
But it was not to be. After a slow (and, if we’re being honest, unlucky) start to the season, Crawford caught fire. He finished with his best batting average (.256) and on-base percentage (.326) since 2016, when he got MVP votes. He had the best slugging percentage (.465) of his career. And the best OPS (.792). And the best OPS+ (116). And his best wRC+ (112) since 2015.
Where did that come from? Was it a lucky and unsustainable boost? Was it working with the new crop of coaches, which would explain Brandon Belt’s similar season?
Don’t know, don’t care.
Actually, I totally care, since the answer to that question plays a big role in figuring out how good the Giants will be in 2021, but in terms of reflecting on 2020 ... it doesn’t matter. He was good. Quite good. Not Corey Seager and Fernando Tatis Jr. good, but comfortably above average, no matter what you attribute it to.
Perhaps more than anything, it was just a lot of fun to watch. He looked balanced, powerful, and in command, which gave hope that it was a sustainable performance.
Role in 2021
Prior to the season, I would have told you that writing this segment of Crawford’s season review would be wildly depressing. Crawford is entering the final year of his contract, is owed $15 million, and has a full no-trade clause. So even if he had a horrific season, trading or waiving him was likely off the table.
Instead he had a strong season, in a year where Dubón proved that his value might be in center field rather than at shortstop. Which means Crawford will enter 2021 in a role most of us didn’t even expect him to have in 2020: the Giants everyday shortstop.
If I were grading Crawford’s season just on how happy it made me, it would be an easy A+. But his defense, while still magical, is no longer elite, so he gets a...
How would you grade Brandon Crawford’s season?
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