Carl Crawford: Injured Outfielder Should Return to All-Star Form in L.A.

Scott Carasik@ScottCarasikContributor IIAugust 25, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 12: Carl Crawford #13 rounds third base on his way home off a double by Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox during the first inning at Progressive Field on August 12, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Carl Crawford was just traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a blockbuster deal. Once he heals from Tommy John surgery, he will return to his All-Star form.

In one of the more shocking moves of the season, Crawford and teammate Adrian Gonzalez now finds themselves in L.A. According to Dayn Perry from CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox have agreed to the following trade:

As anticipated, the Dodgers have acquired first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, right-hander Josh Beckett, outfielder Carl Crawford and infielder Nick Punto from the Red Sox in exchange for first baseman James Loney, outfielder Jerry Sands, infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr., right-hander Rubby De La Rosa and frontline pitching prospect prospect Allen Webster.

So while everyone else is saying Gonzalez is the key piece to this deal, the real key will be how Crawford bounces back from Tommy John surgery in 2013 and beyond.

Crawford should be a better player than he was in Boston. The pressure to be great there is too much for some players, and he could really take a liking to playing in left field at Dodgers Stadium. 

The switch to Dodgers stadium for home games in addition to a manager that isn't a strict disciplinarian should be the biggest reasons why he returns to the all-star form that he showed in Tampa.


Tommy John surgery can lead to a better player than before the surgery

Not that it is guaranteed to do so for everyone, but Tommy John surgery has led other players to become more well-rounded after having to get the surgery.

The year off is something that can be beneficial for the players who have undergone the procedure, as they can study different ways to attack their opponents once they get back.

A notable example of this is Rick Ankiel. Ankiel is one of the few players who wound up having a solid career after he imploded as a pitcher early on.

He came back and was able to make a switch to center field. He has a career batting average of .244, a slugging percentage of .422 and a career OPS of .729 after the switch. All are solid numbers and an improvement from his early batting when he was a pitcher.


Los Angeles should be a better environment than Boston was for success

Bobby Valentine was supposed to be a stabilizing force in the Boston locker room. He was supposed to be the guy who brought out all the talent on the roster that he could.

However, Valentine has been unable to do so, and the Red Sox were sitting at 60-66 before the trade. Valentine's overly disciplinarian attitude is something that has led to the downfall of a once playoff-caliber team.

Enter Don Mattingly and the Dodgers veteran clubhouse to the mix. Now Crawford truly does have a stabilizing force for his career to get back on track. 

There's a ton of talent in L.A., and Crawford isn't going to be relied on to be the top player like he was in Boston. The Dodgers are able to rely on Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier as their marquee bats, and Crawford should be able to return to his more preferred leadoff role.


The bat will return, but he should feel more at home in left field in Los Angeles

Despite having one of the best bats in the majors for a leadoff hitter in Tampa Bay, Crawford fell off in Boston. He should see a nice return to his numbers as a hitter in the more balanced park in Los Angeles. However, the real improvement will be in his fielding.

Fenway Park is notorious for its awkward dimensions. As shown in the graphic above, Dodgers Stadium's dimensions are extremely similar to Tropicana Field's. The more rounded field in L.A. will give Crawford one of the easier fields to patrol.

Despite Fenway having the Green Monster out in left field and more drawn-in dimensions, Fenway can be clunky for an outfielder to navigate. In L.A., Crawford also will deal with more friendly bounces, as he never seemed to truly feel comfortable in the confines of Fenway. That alone will be his return to All-Star form.


Scott Carasik is a featured columnist and trends and traffic writer for Bleacher Report. As a featured columnist, he covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. Carasik also is the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL draft website and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.