Mariners Bright Spot #2: J.P. Crawford's Big Step Forward
J.P. Crawford has never been much more than a league-average shortstop until this year where his offseason work at Driveline paid huge dividends. Improving in almost every major offensive category, he slashed .266/.380/.438 for an OPS of .818 and an OPS+ of 131. He logged 35 doubles and 19 home runs, a new single-season best, over 534 at-bats. He also narrowly beat his single-season record for total bases, reaching the 234 mark. He also led the American League in walks, drawing an exceptional 94 free trips to first-base.
His combination of power, plate discipline, and ability to hit pitches of any type created 27 batting run value, good enough for 93rd percentile in the league. His 4.9 fWAR was third best among AL shortstops and fifth best amongst all shortstops. He was a consistent contributor all year, continuing his torrid hitting stretch well into the fateful final series against the Texas Rangers.
Sure, his defense hasn't improved much and he's still hovering at -4 DRS and -8 OAA, but the offensive breakout was a huge part of an otherwise weak lineup in Seattle. He's already announced his plan to return to Driveline in the offseason while bringing a pal, possibly igniting a much-needed hitting renaissance for this Mariners team.