Will Mariner leader and heartbeat build on career season?

J.P. Crawford was truly amazing, offensively and defensively, in 2023. Does this mean he will return in 2024 to hit and field balls just as well?

Seattle Mariners v Atlanta Braves
Seattle Mariners v Atlanta Braves / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages
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J.P. Crawford had an outstanding season with the Mariners in 2023. Will he return in 2024 with a similarly terrific season? Shortstop is a vital position and many teams put their best players there.J.P. Crawford has always been solid and then this past year, he outdid himself.

So, can we attribute his success to Driveline or was it batting first in the lineup that fired him up? It is hard to know, but I would be surprised if Skipper Servais does not put him first again this year. Fans saw images of him at Driveline this offseason, so it does not matter.

Crawford's bWAR was 5.1. His batting average was 0.266 and he hit 41 percent of his total career home runs in 2023: 19. His hard hit rate was 36.3 percent, his highest since 2018 with the Phillies. MLB named him the 10th-best shortstop in 2023. The Bleacher Report ranked Crawford fourth out of the top 25 shortstops, outranked only by Bobby Witt, Jr. of the Royals, Francisco Lindor of the Mets, and Corey Seager of the Rangers.

J.P. Batted First in the Lineup and He Went to Driveline

Commentators often note that J.P. does and has batted everywhere in the lineup. Until he started batting first regularly, he batted ninth, seventh, sixth, and eighth. Beginning May 10, Crawford began batting first, exclusively. While I was under the impression that this shift was meant to give Julio a break from the pressure of being first, J.P. thrived when first up at bat and delivered.

On social media, we saw that Crawford spent time at Driveline Baseball in Kent in the 2022-2023 offseason and then we saw him back there this past offseason. J.P. promised that he would take Ty France with him to Driveline and sure enough, we saw France being evaluated and hitting. Batting well requires tweaks and adjustments regularly.

Key Moments in 2023

In addition to his batting, you likely remember Crawford’s flying leaps to catch opponents’ hits as well. He caught some amazing balls by jumping or diving for them.

One of J.P.’s favorite home runs in 2023 came when playing his former team, the Phillies. (I think players want to be at their best when playing teams that traded them.) On April 26 in Philadelphia, he hit a grand slam. He hit another significant home run on September 6 against the Royals, bringing in two other players. However, did you know that J.P.’s first home run was off none other than our very own Luis Castillo when Luis pitched for the Reds and Crawford was with Philadelphia?

J. P. Crawford in 2024

I see no reason that J.P. could not come back and become the Hot Mariners’ Shortstop of 2024. He has shown his ability to catch infield balls masterfully and hit well during his time with the Mariners. Barring unexpected injury, I expect to see it again. I am very much looking forward to the double plays he makes with Ty France and the stolen base outs that he and Cal Raleigh get.  Let’s go, Mariners!