3 Reasons JP Crawford is the answer going forward for the Mariners at shortstop
JP Crawford is playing good defense again
When Crawford first started playing for the Mariners, we thought he was going to be some sort of a version of Andrelton Simmons. An incredible defender with a plus-plus glove and the question would always be about the bat.
It's hard to put Crawford into a group. He's a good shortstop, he's going to make some fun plays, but the arm leaves something to be desired. He ranks fairly low in arm strength, sitting in the 30th percentile. I think it's a big reason why a lot of Mariners fans wanted the team to go and get a shortstop, so they could slide JP to second base.
Well, he's looked the part in 2023. Just 37 games into the year, and he is sitting with a dWAR of 0.5 on Baseball-Reference. If he keeps it up, it's going to easily be his best full-season number at the position and will fall in line with his Gold Glove winning season in 2020. He should finish just over 2.0, which is needed for Crawford to continue to play there. However, if he can pair this level of defense with the exit velo he is putting up, we are looking at not just a good shortstop, but a great one.
Don't believe me? Due to the combination of his defense, OBP, and sneaky good RBI/Run totals, Crawford is on pace for a WAR of 5.7! That would've ranked T-22nd in baseball last season. He's currently T-52nd, which makes sense with players having hot starts. Is it possible for him to keep playing defense like this? He is in his prime, only 28 years old, and there is no reason to think that he would slow down over the next few seasons.