In some respects, San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford made huge strides in 2013. But as a whole, it was another underwhelming year for the defensive-minded shortstop.
Crawford began the year with arguably the two best months of his career. In April, he hit five home runs, which surpassed his total for the entire 2012 season, while hitting .272 with 14 RBI. Though his home run hitting ability disappeared in May, he really caught fire at the plate, finishing with a .295 average, seven doubles and a triple. Many were ready to anoint Crawford as the starting shortstop for the NL All-Star team.
Unfortunately, Crawford fell off the map in June, hitting just .238 and displaying virtually no extra-base hitting ability. He turned it back on in July and made his best bid for an All-Star appearance, posting a .290 clip, though he still struggled with getting extra-base hits. Ultimately, Crawford couldn’t recover from his terrible June and did not make the All-Star team.
The 26-year-old shortstop had an absolutely terrible finish to 2013. Over August and September, he went a collective 31-for-159 (.195). He was able to hit three homers over the final two months, but as a whole he still struggled with getting anything besides singles and had just two extra-base hits in September. Granted, he was said to be limited by the effects of a finger injury that he suffered in June, but this was still an awful way for him to end his supposed breakout season.
Despite Bruce Bochy‘s insistence that Crawford had become a good enough hitter to play every day, he ultimately ended up struggling big time against left-handed pitchers. Over 146 at-bats, Crawford had just 29 hits, good for a .199 average. He actually ended up with more strikeouts than hits against lefties, as he struck out in 26 percent of those at-bats.
Crawford’s saving grace traditionally has been his prowess as a defensive shortstop. Though he made a lot of standout plays in 2013 and wasn’t noticeably bad in the field, his stats leave something to be desired. Among qualifying NL shortstops, Crawford had the worst range factor with a 3.90. He participated in the fewest double plays, with just 75, and he had 15 errors, which isn’t terrible but is a number that certainly could be cut down on. Overall, Crawford didn’t have a bad year defensively, but he needs to perform better if he’s going to be as inconsistent at the plate as he was in 2013.
Crawford gets a “C” grade for his performance in 2013. He had a great start, but you have to be concerned with what he did over the second half, particularly because of his pedestrian defense. The Giants have another defense-first shortstop in Ehire Adrianza that is entering a make-or-break year in 2014, and they may want to see what they have in the switch-hitter before they anoint Crawford as the everyday guy.