Carl Crawford Player Projection No. 59

Key Stats: The one thing that you can truly depend on from Carl Crawford in fantasy baseball is that whoever owned him last year does not want him this year. The easiest excuse for coming up short for a team is a failed first round draft pick and Crawford was the very definition of that last season. In a year when he was supposed to have a career high number of runs scored playing in a potent offense, Crawford set a new career low. He also set career lows in batting average, on-base percentage, and (oh this one really hurt) stolen bases. He was to fantasy players what Barry Zito is to the Giants. A useless anchor. 

Skeptics Say: It might not get better. The most obvious reason to cite for Crawford’s failure last season was playing for a new team in a new environment. Obviously dealing with the pressure in Boston is much different from the pressure of Tampa, and perhaps Crawford isn’t cut out for a large market team. And as he now moves toward his age 30 season, the question becomes is the end going to come faster for him than it would for the average player who doesn’t rely on the tools that Crawford has. According to Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, Crawford is unlikely to be ready for Opening Day. When a report like that comes out before Spring Training, shouldn’t we expect it to be much worse than a game or two that he’ll miss?

Peer Comparison: Everything that could have gone wrong for Crawford did go wrong last year, but let’s keep in mind that this was a player ranked in the top 30 for four out of five seasons before last year. The other players that could claim the same were Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun, and Hanley Ramirez. A who’s who of fantasy studs in other words. How a player falls this far obviously goes much deeper than just the physical part of the game, so it will be interesting to see how Crawford adjusts this season. A good example of a player that just went from fairly consistent to bad was Ian Kinsler in 2010. Here’s a look at how much each player dropped by category.

Player

Runs

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Kinsler

28

22

41

16

Up .033

Crawford

45

8

34

29

Down .052

Kinsler dropped in all categories, but average. His drop is nothing compared to Crawford, but his recovery should be noted. Last year as a player one year younger than Crawford he was back to being a top 30 caliber player. Crawford was so good for so long I’m more inclined to find a reason why he won’t bounce back than a reason he will. If Crawford just gets back some of what he was, isn’t he a top sixty player?

Lineup Outlook: For 85% of the season, Crawford hit 6th or lower in the order. The only reason that percentage isn’t higher is because Terry Francona assumed he had the guy that killed the Red Sox for eight seasons in Tampa Bay at the beginning of the year. Crawford owners should expect him to hit low in the order again this season – at least early on. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, and David Ortiz give the team the right combination of left/right/left and also are very good hitters. Given that Crawford doesn’t have a chance to show off how he could help during Spring Training, he will be put in the lineup hitting sixth at best. 

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #11 Outfielder; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #28 Outfielder & #92 Overall; Yahoo: #29 Outfielder & #96 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #11 Outfielder & #33 Overall; RotoChamp: #142 Overall 

Projection: Just because the strikeout rate was up, Crawford’s average shouldn’t have dropped as violently. His line drive, fly ball, and ground ball rates were not drastically different. The line below assumes that his 2012 season falls between his 2010 and 2011 seasons. Not bad, ey?
78 R 15 HR 73 RBI 33 SB .282 AVG .330 OBP .750 OPS in 560 at-bats