In what was likely the most “controversial” of all of last winters trades, J.P. Crawford entered his Mariners tenure with the label of a first-round bust hanging around his neck. And in his first year in Seattle, he was anything but.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all great for Crawford, but 2019 did prove something: that he is a viable, everyday shortstop. With that as the starting point from which to build, Crawford should be even better in 2020.
In his 93 games with the Mariners in 2019, Crawford hit just .226/.313/.371. But more importantly, he showed patience at the plate, posting a 10.9% walk rate, and an average or better glove at shortstop.
Interestingly enough, Crawford has just over one full season of games played in his career (165 games total) and his career slash line is pretty solid for a 24-year-old starting shortstop. In his 165 games, he has hit .222/.320/.367 with 10 home runs, 8 stolen bases, 31 doubles, 8 triples, and a 2.1 fWAR. That is a solid, everyday option at short.
And now, with an entire season at the big league level, those numbers should, in theory, go up. But there is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in regards to Crawford the offensive player. His swing just isn’t where it needs to be.
The swing is a bit long, leaving him susceptible to high velocities. This is likely done in an effort to create more power and while his frame certainly suggests there could be some serious raw power, Crawford and the Mariners will need to make a choice this off-season.
Either they need to ramp up Crawford’s lower half to match his swing and allow him to sell out for max power (which is likely around 20 home runs) or they need to shorten the swing and live with less over the fence power but more hard contact.
Personally, I prefer the latter. Crawford as a .260/.340/.420 guy with 30 doubles and 8-12 home runs is still a good value and is also where I expect to see his final slash line of 2020 look like.