There was a lot to like about our first extended look at J.P. Crawford last season. He showed good on-base skill, a solid glove, and even flashed a month-long stretch where he looked like an All-Star.
However, we also saw plenty of room for growth in Crawford’s game, particularly at the plate. Crawford needed to add strength this winter as well as some flexibility. Crawford admitted that weight training wasn’t a part of his off-season until last winter, so hopefully, the Mariners set him up with a new workout regimen.
Crawford also needed to make some changes to swing this winter. Too often last season, we saw Crawford look caught in between. He was late on fastballs and early on off-speed offerings. These could be attributed to his timing that starts at the lower half of his swing.
Crawford can sometimes be late in getting the front foot down, which leads to a late start to his swing and causes the hands to drag rather than fire through the zone. This bad timing saps Crawford of some natural game power and also leads to more swings and misses.
Crawford generates enough bat speed that he should be able to hit for a decent average with 12-15 home runs and 30 doubles, but only if he makes the tweaks necessary to tap into that potential.
As it sits right now, Crawford is a middle-of-the-road, everyday shortstop. A valuable piece to be sure, but not enough to indefinitely crown him the shortstop of the future. But with no real competition on the big league roster or in the minor leagues, Crawford will get his chance in 2020 and 2021 to prove whether or not he is destined to be average or a bit more than that.
Hopefully this spring, we see some tweaks to his swing and a player whose time in the gym paid dividends for a promising young player.