Analysis: Revisiting JP Crawford’s extension with the Seattle Mariners

Hours before the first pitch on Opening Day last April, the Mariners announced a five-year, $51 million extension with JP Crawford buying out the remainder of his officiating and two years as a free agent.

At the time, I felt like Seattle was taking an unnecessary risk. Crawford hadn’t proven to be anything more than an average league hitter over an extended period of time, and the upside seemed limited compared to another option the organization could have potentially pursued via trade or leasing. free agency.

Crawford’s best season came in 2021, when he scored 103 wRC+ and was worth 3.3 fWAR. He’s a very good hitter to have. But he has a career-high 98 wRC+ in nearly 2,000 at-bats, two points below the league average rate.

While Crawford has seen his strikeout rate drop each season, his contact quality has stabilized near the bottom of the league. His hitting rate is in the bottom sixth percentile of baseball and his barrel rate is in the bottom third percentile. This is a batter who rarely hits the ball with authority and lacks the type of contact that results in extra hits. There is little reason to believe that will change any time soon.

Crawford has had a torrid first month of the season this year, but since June 1, he’s slashed .221/.283/.277 with a 67 wRC+, which ranks 31st among shortstops with at least 100 plate appearances and good last among the shortstops. with at least 200 plaque appearances over this period.

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To paraphrase: Crawford has been the league’s worst daily offensive shortstop in the past two months.

Additionally, Crawford also has a negative fWAR over this span, meaning he was worse than a substitute level player and his defense and base running weren’t good enough to overcome his lack of offensive production.

I don’t consider Outs Above Average a quality stat for infielders (it’s my preference for outfielders), but Crawford is the second-worst defensive shortstop in all of baseball at -6 OAA . Defensive Runs Saved, which is a better stat for infielders, has Crawford as the 16th best shortstop at +3 DRS.

No matter what stat you look at, Crawford has been an average defender at best.

Last offseason, Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto reassured Crawford that he was “our shortstop” and that any rumors that Seattle would court players for free agency came with warning that they would be moved elsewhere on the pitch.

Now, that decision appears to have been a mistake. And with another strong group of shortstops – headlined by Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson – heading to free agency this winter, it would seem wise for Dipoto and company to take a more open approach. of mind.

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