Around 2019, something interesting started happening with San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. His glove started to lose a tiny bit of its ability.
It wasn’t shocking, or even sad. This happens with players, especially shortstops a few years into their 30s.
But something funny happened as Crawford’s glove started to drift towards “very good” after years of “extremely great.” The magic never subsided. The metrics started to paint the picture of a player a little past his prime defensively, and if you looked carefully, that showed up in his range and even in his errors. But the magic was still there. There were still just as many plays that left your jaw sitting on your living room floor, waiting for you to reach down and pick it up.
The rate at which you smiled goofily after a ball was hit in his direction, forgetting the score, the standings, or what happened in your day, because you were lost in the moment, swept away by a brilliance that could only be described as fun, stayed constant.
He always had a penchant for the remarkable, the artistic, and the unthinkable.
And then, in 2021, as Crawford’s bat not only bounced back to career average levels, but leap-frogged to career best levels, his glove followed along for the ride. The magic again remained, but now the other elements of defense rebounded again.
So it felt almost pre-determined that on Sunday Crawford would be awarded the Gold Glove Award for National League shortstops. It was the fourth time he’d won the award, and the first time since 2017.
He’s the best of the best.
By the eye and by all the metrics, it was Crawford’s best defensive season since 2017. For all the attention we gave him (and the coaching staff) for rebuilding his bat in his 11th MLB season, the defensive rejuvenation is nearly as noteworthy.
Still got it. Still golden.