The San Francisco Giants own the best record in baseball (43-24), but don’t currently flaunt any front-runners to claim starting roles on the 2014 National League All-Star team. The Giants boast several All-Star worthy players on their squad, but nobody is more undervalued than shortstop Brandon Crawford.
The fourth-year player is enjoying the best season of his big league career to date. He’s already driven-in 35 runs and will likely surpass his 2013 RBI total (43) by the time the Midsummer Classic is set to take place in Minneapolis next month. Crawford owns a respectable .260 batting average with 25 extra-base hits in 215 official at bats in 66 games. Even though his numbers aren’t fantastic on paper, it’s how he’s posted them that makes him an All-Star-caliber player.
Crawford has lengthened the Giants’ lineup at the bottom of the order, recording a .288 average in 52 at-bats with runners in scoring position. He’s been a difference-maker for San Francisco in tie games, registering a whopping 1.144 OPS with three home runs and eight RBIs in 49 plate appearances. His clutch ability to come up with hits when it matters most is characteristic of the type of player he’s become. The Giants would not be 19 games over the .500 mark if it weren’t for Crawford’s offense.
The slick-fielding shortstop has made his name household among diehard baseball fans because of his defense. Sinker-ball specialist Tim Hudson owns the lowest ERA in the big leagues (1.81) in part because of Crawford’s outstanding range up the middle and in the five-hole. Crawford plays Gold Glove-caliber defense to complement his ability to drive in runs in clutch situations. When he’s not fueling late-inning rallies, he’s saving runs with his glove.
Barring a tremendous rally from Giants fans, it’s distinctly unlikely for Crawford to start at shortstop in the 2014 MLB All-Star Game. According to the latest vote tally, Colorado Rockies‘ slugger Troy Tulowitzki leads all NL shortstops with more than two million votes. Tulowitzki is certainly worthy of that spot, but that doesn’t change the fact that Crawford deserves to be on that team as a reserve, especially if he continues to produce at his current pace.
Crawford is red hot, recording a .378 average with 11 RBIs and 25 total bases in 37 at bats this month. His season average has increased by 24 points in June, supplying his resume with the type of statistics needed to “qualify” for All-Star notoriety.