This year, he's coming off a wrist injury and a sore elbow after suffering a hamstring injury last season. He isn't expected back until early May, according to Rotoworld.com.
But Crawford will go from zero to hero this year.
Why? Because he's simply too good to repeat last season's struggles.
Before 2011, Crawford averaged a .298 BA, 92 runs and 50 steals in his prior eight seasons. Headed into last season, he was widely regarded as one of the best players in the big leagues, and it was hard to argue. In 2010, he hit .307 with 19 home runs, 110 runs, 90 RBI and 47 stolen bases with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Red Sox need Crawford more than ever this season. They've stumbled off to a 1-5 record and their overall pitching and hitting has struggled to get off the ground. Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz each gave up seven runs apiece to start their 2012 campaigns. While Jacoby Ellsbury should eventually get back on track, there are legitimate concerns about the aging Kevin Youkilis and new outfielder Cody Ross, who are both hitting below the Mendoza Line.
Crawford truly has the ability to reverse public sentiment within one season. The way things are looking so far for the Red Sox, his bat could prove crucial down the line, particularly in September. After Boston's meltdown at the end of last season, they may need a significant boost to even make the playoffs in 2012, let alone win the American League East.
Crawford drew lots of criticism in 2011, which was predictable given his giant contract and relatively poor play. But if he's healthy, he's one of the few players in baseball who can carry a team on his back. He can hit, run, field and be a presence in the clubhouse.
The Red Sox need Crawford this season, and a bounce-back campaign is not only possible, but likely.
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