What to expect from Mariners SS J.P. Crawford in 2023
Despite taking a slight step back in 2022 from his stellar 2021 season, J.P. Crawford is in line for a bounceback 2023 season. His rates have been steadily improving since his first years in Philadelphia and his defense has shown the ability to be spectacular.
While he won a Gold Glove in 2020 and had a 1.8 defensive WAR in 2021, he took a minor step back in 2022 and was weaker on that side of the ball. But, he is certainly in line to re-fortify the left side of the infield and is my pick to win another Gold Glove in the AL.
In 2021, Crawford put up a 3.8 WAR over 160 games. In those 160 games, he slashed .273/.338/.376 for a .715 OPS with 169 hits, 37 doubles, 9 home runs and 54 RBI.
Then, in 2022, he put up a 2.8 WAR in 145 games. He slashed .243/.339/.336 with a .675 OPS, 126 hits, 24 doubles, 6 HR and 42 RBI.
Crawford has elite plate discipline but does not hit the ball hard. Baseball Savant had him in the 93rd percentile in K%, 94th percentile in chase rate, 96th percentile in whiff%, and 86th percentile in BB% in 2022. Those are all skills that carry over from year to year, so Crawford will just need to get lucky on the balls he puts in play and finding holes.
Despite improving his walk and strikeout percentages over the year, specifically with his strikeout percentage, which has decreased every season, his luck ran out as his BABIP went down.
Fangraphs and Baseball Reference both predict that Crawford will improve slightly offensively, but my personal prediction points to a comparable but slightly better increase than those predictions. I point to his decreasing strikeout rate, improving walk rate from 2021–22, and his BABIP potentially returning to around .300 in 2023.
I also am predicting that his BB% and K% will even out at 13.0% a piece and his defense will make him a formidable SS in the AL. I do not think that Crawford will be an All-Star as there are some amazing players at his position, but he will be a key contributor to a Mariners team who will be competing for the AL West crown.