Carl Crawford is many things. A replacement-level player is not one of them.
And yet, in 2011, that is exactly what he was; Crawford’s WAR (wins above replacement) last season sat exactly 0.0. This essentially means that the Sox could have replaced him with a profoundly average player and gotten identical production at the plate and in the field. It was not quite what they had in mind when they signed Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million contract in the offseason.
However, there is hope for Crawford. The law of averages says that it is simply not possible for him to be that bad again. A man with four All-Star appearances and a Gold Glove does not suddenly become an entirely ineffective player.
Crawford’s athletic abilities have never been questioned, and there’s no reason for them to be now. His horrific season can be traced back to a unique confluence of events that included a wrist injury, adjusting to a new team and city and being shuffled around the lineup.
With the entire organization attempting to turn the page on a wholly dismal 2011, Crawford certainly has plenty of motivation to improve upon his effort from last year.
It’s not every day that a team’s owner has to call a player to apologize, but that is exactly what happened this offseason after the Sox’ principal owner John Henry said in an October radio interview that he had been “personally opposed” to signing Crawford.
Although he’s since met with Henry to clear the air, Crawford can still use the insult to fuel him this season. Athletes across all generations and sports have used both real and perceived slights to spur their performance, and Crawford will be no different.
In addition to the intangible ammunition Henry’s comment provides, here are five more reasons Crawford will return to his All-Star form in 2012: