Posts tagged ‘Carl Crawford’

Fixing the Rays Need for Power

Andruw JonesRussell Branyan

The Tampa Bay Rays are going to look like a completely different team than the one that won the AL East in 2010.  Long gone are Carl Crawford, Matt Garza, Carlos Pena, Jason Bartlett, and a slew of relievers.  The Rays have already begun to rebuild the bullpen, they had Reid Brignac ready to take over at shortstop, and Jeremy Hellickson more than ready to take a rotation spot.

Replacing Crawford is the toughest task.  Crawford was tied for 3rd in the AL with 6.9 fWAR.  That will not be matched by a leftfield mix of Matt Joyce, Desmond Jennings, and Sam Fuld.

The Rays will more than likely be without Rafael Soriano and Grant Balfour at the back of the bullpen.  Soriano’s price tag is too high and I suspect Balfour’s is as well, but more on that in a moment.

The Rays have major holes at 1B, DH (although I think full-time DHs shrink a roster), and the back of the bullpen, and that is without calling leftfield a major hole at the moment.  So what do the Rays need to do?  I have a plan.

My first order of business would be to sign Russell Branyan. I have already supplied enough evidence to prove that Branyan is highly undervalued. It’s time someone took advantage of that and why not the Rays?  The misconception that Branyan is a DH is far off.  



January 11, 2011 at 11:58 am 5 comments

Crawford is Perfect Addition to Red Sox

Carl Crawford

I wrote the other day asking if Carl Crawford was one of the top 30 players in all of baseball.  Well, if he isn’t, he is sure is being paid like one.  The Boston Red Sox have signed Carl Crawford to a 7-year $142M contract.  The deal will take Crawford through his age 35 season, leaving little room for a decline phase on this seven year contract.  Believe me when I say that Crawford is worth every penny.

Crawford is coming off of the best season of his young, yet long career.  He hit .307/.356/.495 with an OPS+ of 134 and wOBA of .378, 47 stolen bases, and 21.2 UZR/150 for a career high 6.9 fWAR.  Crawford also set a career high with 19 homeruns, 141 wRC+, and .188 ISO.

We already know that Crawford is the best defensive leftfielder in the game and possibly the best defensive outfielder overall.  He has made more plays out of his zone than any other player at any position over the past three years.  Sure, Fenway may hurt some of his range but it will allow the centerfielder to play a few steps to his left and feel like he will get burned in the left-center field gap.

I am not sure how the Red Sox will do their lineup.  My guess is that, on most nights, Crawford will bat behind Dustin Pedroia in the 2-hole, where I believe he belongs.

In 2651 plate appearances Crawford’s has hit .305/.349/.463 from the 2-hole.  By far his best spot in the lineup throughout his career.  I also love the 2-hole for him because he hits best with men on base, especially with men on first, forcing the firstbaseman to hold the runner thus leaving a bigger gap on the right side of the infield. 

In 296 plate appearances last year Crawford hit .350/.399/.555 with men on base.  This is not to say that he has some “special clutch skill” but to show that he exploits the holes created by the defense when men are on base.  Crawford’s plus-plus speed also makes it difficult to double him up.  He only grounded into 2 double plays all year.  With Pedroia getting on base 37% of the time Crawford should have no problem hitting well above .300 this year with a shot at .320+.

This move makes the Red Sox immediate favorites in the AL East.  Sure, they may be left handed heavy, but they have a deep rotation and an incredibly deep and young bench.  Oh, and the best leftfielder in the game.

December 9, 2010 at 9:55 am Leave a comment

Is Crawford a Top 30 Player? ESPN Doesn’t Think So

Carl Crawford

If you frequent you probably have noticed that they post “List Rankers” that allow visitors to rank the players they have chosen for a certain category.  The most recent one posted is Baseball’s Best Players and you can rank the top 30 players, chosen by ESPN, in whatever order you prefer.  The list varied from obvious choices like Albert Pujols, Evan Longoria, and Miguel Cabrera to not-so-obvious choices like Paul Konerko, Tim Hudson, and 126M dollar man Jayson Werth.  You could probably argue for a few people to make the Top 30 list but none more than Carl Crawford.

In 2010, Crawford was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove, won a Silver Slugger Award, lead the league in triples, had on OPS+ of 134, +52 baserunning, and finished tied for 6th in fWAR with 6.9.

He has played 9 seasons in the Majors and will start the 2010 season at the tender age of 29, or, right in the middle of his prime.  In those 9 seasons he has been one of the most dynamic players with 1480 hits, 215 doubles, 105 triples, 104 homeruns, and 409 stolen bases.  He has lead the league in stolen bases 4 times, triples 4 times, and PwrSpd 2 times.

Over the past 3 seasons he has a +77 in leftfield, that is 35 more than the next closest leftfielder (Matt Holiday at +42) and 15 more than the next closest outfielder (Franklin Gutierrez at +62).

Here are some ranks of Crawford’s since he debuted in 2002:

 Stat  Total  Rank Since 2002
 Triples  105  1st
 Stolen Bases  409  2nd
 RF/G  2.23  1st
 Total Zone Runs  62  1st (among LF)
 Hits  1480  14th
 AVG.  .296  19th

Bill James also gives Crawford a 30% chance of reaching 3000 hits and a 6% chance of reaching 1000 steals.  Both are marks that, if reached, are sure tickets to Cooperstown.

As the best defensive outfielder in the game, Crawford has it all:  Speed, Power, Defense, Baserunning, Developing Power, and he is just entering his prime, coming off of the best season of his career as a 28 year old. 

I dare say that if Crawford had been playing for the Yankees the past 9 season ESPN probably would have had him on this list but, instead, they completely whiffed and left him off their list when he is without a doubt one of the 30 best players in the game.

December 7, 2010 at 10:00 pm 2 comments

There is No Justice When it Comes to Gold Glove Awards

Franklin Gutierrez

The 2009 Gold Glove Award winners have been announced. *Sigh*. I’ve made it known that I believe the Gold Glove Awards are a joke and I know I am not alone. I want to believe that the award will one day actually go to the best fielders. I hold hope. Well, 2009 was not a year the award took a step forward. In fact, it took a step back, which is very hard to do.

Here are all the 2009 winners with my notes on each:

C – Yadier Molina (STL) – This was one of those without-a-doubt winners. There was no other catcher even close to him. He is the best at throwing out runners, blocking balls in the dirt, and one of the best at calling a game. He is also the best at blocking the plate and catching the ball with a runner charging at him like a raging bull. This is one of the few the voters got right, mainly because it was almost impossible to get wrong.

C – Joe Mauer (MIN) – This is not an awful selection but Gerald Laird deserved to win it here. Laird is the best in the AL at throwing runners out and any scout will attest that he is a plus defender behind home plate. The Fielding Bible Awards (which is the real award for fielders in my opinion) also suggests that Laird is the best in the AL. Mauer wins here because the managers tend to look at offensive stats and star names first. Again, Mauer is not a bad selection but Laird deserves to win.

1B – Adrian Gonzalez (SD) – First base is tough here. I can live with Gonzalez but I do think Derek Lee and Albert Pujols were better. Pujols doesn’t get the win due to his 13 errors but he still managed to have a .992 fielding percentage and the most range at the position in the NL. I can flip a coin between the three but I do believe Pujols got robbed here and the Fielding Bible also believes so; he scored a 95 (out of a possible 100) points. The only man that had a chance to win over him was Casey Kotchman, the best fielding first baseman in the game in my opinion, but he did not log enough innings at first for me to warrant giving him the award.

1B – Mark Teixeira (NYY) – Another close call. Tex has incredible hands and plus range. The only better everyday defender at 1B is Kevin Youkilis but he only totaled 647 innings at the position because he was asked to play third for a chunk of the season. Tex only posted a -4.1 UZR/150 as well. Lyle Overbay posted a -0.8 but had the best fielding percentage and the second most assists and should get a mention here.

2B – Orlando Hudson (LAD) – Not even close. Chase Utley, again, gets violently robbed. Utley posted an +11.3 UZR/150 and from scouts that I have talked to he is the best fielding second baseman in the entire league. I have to agree with them. Hudson posted a below average -3.7 UZR/150. Not even close to what Utley did. This is a complete shame and Utley has now been robbed for the fourth and possibly fifth year in a row.

2B – Placido Polanco (DET) – He was voted the winner thanks to only making two errors. While it is important to not throw the ball in the stands and not kick it around it is more important to reach balls out of your zone. Ben Zobrist, in a rare case for me, should get the Gold Glove here. He destroyed everyone in UZR/150 by posting a +30.8 compared to Polanco who had a +11.0, which is Gold Glove caliber. Zobrist loses a little credit due to all the positions he had to play and his lack of innings at the position. I rarely, if ever, vote for a guy with 714 innings at the position but when your UZR/150 is almost three times as high as the second place fielder then you deserve some credit. Oh, and I saw him play almost all 714 innings and his range and arm are plus there, no doubt.

3B – Ryan Zimmerman (WAS) – He deserves this. Plus arm, plus hands, plus range. His UZR/150 of +20.1 is almost double the second best NL third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff at +10.7.

3B – Evan Longoria (TB) – A solid selection here but one can make an argument for Adrian Beltre. Longoria posted a UZR/150 of +19.2 and Beltre posted a +21.0 but Longoria gets the slight nod due to having a better arm and the best range and hands of any third baseman in the league. The Fielding Bible had Beltre at 76 points and Longoria at 75, for what it’s worth. A very close call here by all accounts.

SS – Jimmy Rollins (PHI) – This is almost laughable. Troy Tulowitzki, Rafael Furcal, Brendan Ryan, and J.J. Hardy were all better at short. Tulowitki’s metrics don’t match what scouts say and what I’ve seen of him. Ryan has the best UZR/150 of +13.8 with Furcal at +8.5 and Hardy at +8.8. Tulo only posted a -0.9 so I have to discredit him some there but he did have the second most assists and putouts, not to mention the best range of any shortstop in the NL and a cannon of an arm. Rollins had a +2.9, which is a far cry from the Ryan, Furcal, or Hardy. The Fielding Bible gave the award to Jack Wilson (who posted a major league best +20.4 UZR/150) but he spilt time between the two leagues and didn’t log close to enough innings to give him the award. Tulowitzki was 2nd in the FB, losing by one point to Wilson.

SS – Derek Jeter (NYY) – Geez! This again. His range is poor. His arm strength is below-average. He looks bad on balls in front of him and to either side. Cesar Izturis posted a +14.1 UZR/150, Adam Everett a +13.6, and Elvis Andrus a +11.7. Jeter had a solid +8.4 but he is not match for any of the three mentioned above. This is another case where the managers looked at offensive numbers and notoriety first. The Fielding Bible had Jeter ranked 8th among AL shortstops with 3 points. Andrus was first among AL shortstops at 69 points.

OF – Michael Bourn (HOU), Matt Kemp (LAD), Shane Victorino (PHI) – Let me start by stating that I hate how the award isn’t divided among all three outfield positions. Why does the infield get divided and not the outfield? Makes zero sense to me. Anyway… Bourn is a solid selection here. He has incredible wheels, great range, and a decent arm. His UZR/150 is +8.7 with 11 assists and the Fielding Bible had him as the highest rated NL centerfielder with 40 points. Kemp posted a + 3.2 but only received 12 points in the FB but does have the best arm of any centerfielder and had 14 assists. Victorino is another laughable selection. He has poor range, makes bad judgment calls on balls hit in front of him, a weak arm, and only gets credit because he dives for balls even though most centerfielders would be camped under them. His UZR/150 is -4.2 and he received 14 points in the FB. Better selections would have been Nyjer Morgan (+35.8 and 13 assists), Randy Winn (+20.1 and no errors), Tony Gwynn (+19.4), and Hunter Pence (+5.3 and 16 assists).

OF – Ichiro Suzuki (SEA), Torii Hunter (LAA), Adam Jones (BAL) – The AL winners consist of two guys that received their 9th award in a row and one first time winner. Ichiro posted a +11.3 UZR/150 with 5 assists and 93 Fielding Bible points, Hunter a -2.1 with 2 assists and 25 FB points, and Jones -4.1 with 9 assists and 2 FB points. I am unsure as to how the managers chose Jones. I know exactly why they chose Ichiro and Hunter, although there were many better selections. Franklin Gutierrez had a +27.1 UZR150 with 6 assists, 97 points in the Fielding Bible, and possibly the most range of any player in the game. Carl Crawford had a +17.5 with 6 assists and had 99 points in the Fielding Bible. Of the 10 voters, 9 gave Crawford first place votes and one gave him a second place vote. He is by far the best defensive leftfielder and has now won 3 of 4 Fielding Bible Awards and no Gold Gloves. What a shame! Ryan Sweeney posted a +27.6 and 11 assists and 60 FB points. David DeJesus had a +15.1, 13 assists, no errors, and 68 FB points (thanks to Crawford). Rajai Davis had a +16.2, 8 assists, and 42 FB points. Juan Rivera had a +15.0 with 11 assists and 65 FB points.

P – Adam Wainwright (STL) – I would’ve taken teammate Joel Pineiro and Johan Santana over Wainwright. He makes all the right plays but he is not a Gold Glover.

P – Mark Buehrle (CHW) – The right choice here. He is the best fielding pitcher in the AL, hands down. He is great at holding runners and picking them off too.

So, with all that said, here are my selections for the Gold Glove Awards:

C – Yadier Molina (NL)
C – Gerald Laird (AL)
1B – Albert Pujols (NL)
1B – Mark Teixeira (AL)
2B – Chase Utley (NL)
2B – Ben Zobrist (AL)
3B – Ryan Zimmerman (NL)
3B – Evan Longoria (AL)
SS – Troy Tulowitzki (NL)
SS – Adam Everett (AL)
OF – Nyjer Morgan (NL), Hunter Pence (NL), Michael Bourn (NL)
OF – Franklin Gutierrez (AL), Carl Crawford (AL), Ryan Sweeney (AL)
P – Joel Pineiro (NL)
P – Mark Buehrle (AL)

As you can see, I only agreed with 6 out of 18 of the selections that the voters made. While some of the selections were decent and not far off there were far too many that were purely laughable and simply had zero thought when they were voted for. It’s time for MLB to re-evaluate the Gold Glove voting process and take it out of the hands of the managers and into the hands of the scouting directors.

November 12, 2009 at 1:37 am Leave a comment

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