Carl Crawford Exceeding Expectations
Just two weeks ago there was speculation that Carl Crawford might start the year on the DL. This move would have allowed the fast rising prospect Yasiel Puig, who had hit over .500 for Spring Training, to give the Los Angeles Dodgers faithful a quick glimpse of the near future. It wasn’t too far out of the question for the Dodgers who were concerned that Crawford wouldn’t even be able to throw the ball back to the infield on balls hit to the outfield. However, it was determined that Crawford would in fact be able to play the field and therefore be ready for opening day.
Fast forward to the second week of the season and Crawford is not only playing, but he is tearing it up for the 4-3 Dodgers. The left fielder has already racked up 11 hits in 24 at-bats (.458) with two stolen bases and even though the team around him has not particularly hit well as a whole, he has already scored five runs in his six starts. The player that has shown up in 2013 is the player that the Boston Red Sox thought they were getting when they signed Crawford to a seven year and $142 million dollar deal.
When the big Red Sox deal was signed, Crawford had come off eight full seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays where he had averaged 50 stolen bases per season. The two seasons in Boston were a huge disappointment as he had a combined 161 games played and only stole 22 bags. In August of last season when the Dodgers traded for Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto, they were taking a huge risk that Crawford would return to the same All-Star caliber player he was in Tampa Bay. The risk looks a whole lot better than it did at the time and at this point it’s not a stretch to say he has exceeded expectations from both the organization and the fan base since he was expected to start the season on the DL.
Although it’s fair to say that Crawford will not continue hitting over .400 and getting on base at better than .500, it is also fair to say that if he continues to hit well, he will have provided the Dodgers with the leadoff hitter they needed to balance out the heavy hitters in the heart of that lineup. If healthy for the full season, Crawford will continue to give the Dodgers important contributions as they pursue their first NL West title since 2009 and their first World Series Championship since 1988.