Should JP Crawford Be Selected to the All-Star Game?

BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 15: J.P. Crawford #3 of the Seattle Mariners takes a swing during game two of a doubleheader game against the Baltimore Orioles. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 15: J.P. Crawford #3 of the Seattle Mariners takes a swing during game two of a doubleheader game against the Baltimore Orioles. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

As Phase 2 of the 2021 All-Star comes to a close today, the three names currently at the top of the race for AL Shortstop are Xander Bogaerts (BOS), Bo Bichette (TOR), and Carlos Correa (HOU).  One name not currently being mentioned, but someone who should be in the discussion: our very own JP Crawford.  A deeper dive into his numbers shows that Crawford deserves to be included in this year’s 2021 AL All-Star roster.

Looking at JP Crawford’s Defense

The most well-known part of JP Crawford’s game is his defense.  He took a big step forward last year, culminating in his first Gold Glove.  One year later, and he’s gotten even better defensively.  Read more about if JP Crawford can win another Gold Glove here.

For starters, he’s tied with Kiner-Falefa (TEX) for the most defensive games played at shortstop of all AL shortstops with 80 games played, while Correa has played 76 and Bogaerts rounds out the top five with 72 games played.

In those 80 games, he’s established himself as the AL leader in defensive war (dWAR) at 1.6.  Of the current top three shortstops in the AL All-Star voting, only Correa ranks in the top ten at number 7 (dWAR: 1.1).  Crawford also leads all AL shortstops in double plays turned (57).  Bogaerts is the closest of the top three vote-getters to Crawford in this category with 45 DPs turned.

Crawford is currently second out of all AL shortstops with 106 putouts, while only Bichette ranks in the top 5 (84 putouts – ranked 5th).  Crawford has assisted in 217 outs, while Bichette and Bogaerts both have 187 assists.  Correa ranks 5th with 178.  J.P.’s fielding percentage is .979 – ranked 4th of all AL shortstops.  Only Correa ranks better, fielding an AL-best .985.

There are two additional statistical metrics commonly used to evaluate a player’s defensive impact – total zone runs and range factor/9 innings.  According to Baseball Reference, total zone runs are the number of runs above or below average a player is worth based on the number of plays made while range factor/9 innings normalizes the number of assists and putouts per innings played.

Crawford ranks 3rd in total zone runs with a value of 7, meaning he’s worth 7 runs above average.  Of the top three AL shortstops, only Correa ranks higher as the best of all AL shortstops with a value of 9.  Crawford ranks 3rd out of all AL shortstops in range factor/9 innings with a value of 4.17 – only Bichette ranked in the top five at 5th place with a value of 3.99.  One final statistic worth mentioning: Bichette leads all AL shortstops in errors committed this season (12).

These defensive statistics alone imply that Crawford at least belongs in the conversation.  He should certainly be considered one of the best defensive shortstops in the American League at present.

Looking at JP Crawford’s Offense

Offensively, J.P. Crawford doesn’t blow you away.  He posts a modest .285 BA, .344 OBP, .402 SLG, and an offensive WAR (oWAR) of 1.6.  For comparison, Bogaerts ranks 2nd in oWAR (3.7), Correa ranks 4th (3.4), and Bichette ranks 9th (2.8).  Correa and Bogaerts are both in the top ten for OBP, with Correa ranked 4th (.395) and Bogaerts ranked 6th (.391).

Crawford is only ranked 8th for singles (59) and 9th for doubles (19).  While he has shown improvements over the years, including an ever-improving OPB, his OPS+ of 112 simply doesn’t get him the attention that a Bogaerts (152) or a Correa (150) receives.

Does JP Crawford Deserve ASG Recognition?

This is the issue that Crawford faces – his biggest strength isn’t the part of the game that All-Star voters care about.  He’s demonstrably better defensively than Bichette and Bogaerts, but all three of the top shortstop vote-getters are all ranked in the top ten for almost every offensive category.  It’s likely that Crawford is selected as a reserve player simply because it’s impossible to ignore his defensive abilities.

So long as the starters are selected via fan voting, it’s unlikely that a player like J.P. Crawford will ever be selected.  As a Mariners fan, I hope he makes the roster but perhaps this puts a bit of a chip on his shoulder to push himself to improve even more.  Mariners faithful – get out and vote for this guy.