San Francisco Giants: How Long Will Shortstop Brandon Crawford Last?

Matt DavidContributor IIIFebruary 11, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 14:  Brandon Crawford #35 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on June 14, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In Bruce Bochy's world, young players are typically given about 10 seconds and a few at-bats to prove themselves before getting sucked into a pinch-hitting/defensive replacement/Fresno vortex. 

Buster Posey was the Giants' best hitter in 2010 from the second he stepped on the field. Even then, it took several more weeks of Molina stomping before Posey was permanently installed behind the plate. 

But what about Brandon Crawford? This year's shortstop by default is being given an unprecedented shot at holding down the position, despite little hype and ever less big-league success. 

Last season, Crawford hit an anemic .204 in 66 games. In 2010, Crawford hit .236. In the minor leagues. And none of that happened in Triple-A. So, what gives? 

There are no other options. 

Last season, Crawford's 0.1 WAR ranked 42nd out of 52 shortstops who notched 200 plate appearances. The 10 below him included Crawford's worse-than-replacement teammates, Miguel Tejada and Orlando Cabrera.  

No Giants opening day shortstop has achieved a WAR higher than 1.0 since Omar Vizquel in 2007. 

This is admittedly a simplistic analysis. Crawford is too young to be written off and is also the Giants' most consistent glove at a very important position. Further, the recent acquisition of banjo-hitting Ryan Theriot won't exactly have the faithful starting for revolution. 

After nearly a decade of over-the-hill shortstops, Brandon Crawford still has that new car smell. Giants fans and the front office are willing to give him a chance, but for how long? What if he is hitting .220 on May 1? June 1? 

Interestingly, Crawford's prospects likely have little to do with his offense. His ability to stay in the lineup will depend more on the success of the other seven hitters around him. 

If Melky Cabrera flops and Aubrey Huff continues to swing a wiffle bat, patience will wear thin. In a year where the patience well is already running low, even Mike Fontenot might start to look attractive.  

How long would you let Brandon Crawford flail away? One month? Two months? All season? Long enough for Brian Sabean to flip Brian Wilson for Yunel Escobar? 

Hey, if it doesn't work out, I know of at least one guy that's available.