STEAMER projects JP Crawford to have a bounce back 2023
JP Crawford has been one of the hardest Mariners to pin down. The guy exudes confidence and happiness and seems to be a massive reason for how hard the Mariners play and how much fun they have while doing it.
It's the production that people always talk about though. The Mariners signed Crawford to an extension, and have said for a while now that he is the teams shortstop. Some have criticized that, shouting that the team needs to move him to second and should've brought in one of the big dawg SS that were available this year. With decent production and up-and-down defense, Crawford is a good shortstop, and will likely always be in the "is he good enough" conversations.
Fortunately for us who like predictions and projections, STEAMER thinks that Crawford is going to have a strong 2023. Nothing crazy, but they have him much closer to his 2021 numbers than the ones that he put up in 2022. I like what I see, but there are a few things to talk about.
2021 - .273/.338/.376, 9 HR, 8.4% BB, 16.6% K, 0.1 Off, 9.6 def, 3.3 WAR, .320 BABIP, 103 WRC+
2022 - .243/.339/.336, 6 HR, 11.3% BB, 13.3% K, 1.5 off, -1.5 def, 2.0 WAR, .275 BABIP, 104 WRC+
Steamer - .256/.337/.365, 8 HR, 9.9% BB, 14.8% K, 5.6 off, 3.9 def, 2.9 WAR, .291 BABIP, 109 WRC+
I'm not including his runs or RBI in here. That's totally dependant on where they place him in the lineup. He scored a ton while at the top of the lineup in 2021, and much less while near the bottom in 2022. The ones that standout are BABIP, his BB/K rates, and his def.
They show him going back to a near league average BABIP. I like that. His average follows his BABIP and a consistent difference, so somewhere in the 40 point range makes sense. League average BABIP should show a BA in the mid-250s. However, I like the progress he made last year at the plate with his eye and patience. It's not a major difference, but it is one I think we should keep an eye on. If he fully embraces singles and playing gap-to-gap, I think we see BB/K rates withing a couple of points again.
I'm real interested in the def part of this. Crawford wasn't great last year in that regard. In fact, there's an argument that he was slightly below average, and it can be reasonably backed up with stats and proof. However, he was dealing with some injuries and I think that hampered his ability and range. I don't think we see him win a GG ever again, but he should turn back into an above-average defender.
With a few years under his belt, it does seem like we are finally starting to get a real handle on what the soon-to-be 28-year-old Crawford is. It's still a bit early, with him in the center of his "prime", but the safe route seems to expect a decent player, and hope for a great one instead of hoping for a great one and being disappointed at the 2.5 fWAR season. I'm gonna give STEAMER an A on this one, as it seems like the most realistic projection that they have made so far.