Fans have every reason to be excited about the 31-year-old speedy outfielder, who has the potential to be a gelling component to an offense that negatively defied expectations by falling short despite having some of the best hitters in the National League.
“Potential” is the key word. Positive expectations are always endearing, Dodger fans, but let’s make sure those expectations don’t result in stark disappointment at the end of the season.
If you’ve been a loyal fan over the years, you approach any potentially exciting scenario for the Dodgers with some reluctance.
Let’s take a trip back to the 2008 season for an eerily similar scenario that ended in disaster: A promising 31-year-old star outfielder coming to Los Angeles with high expectations.
Ding, ding, ding. Andruw Jones.
We all know how that ended up: One year in L.A. with abysmal performance (.158 BA, .256 OBP, .249 SLG, 3 HR, 14 RBI) and the Dodgers were still paying him $3.2 million every season until this past season.
Jones performed better in his rookie season in 31 games (.217 BA, .265 OBP, .443 SLG, 5 HR, 13 RBI) than he did in the 72 games he played that season.
So, will Crawford be the next Jones? The Dodgers certainly hope not.
In his first full season with the Red Sox in 2011, Crawford got off to an extremely slow start and never fully recovered from it. After a career-high year with the Tampa Bay Rays the year before, he posted career lows in both batting average (.255, career: .292) and steals (18, career average: 40) in Boston.
We’ll never truly know whether his shortcomings were primarily mental or whether it was simply an anomalistic season for a superstar player, but whatever the root of his poor performance may have been, it plainly didn’t work out for him in Boston.
If Crawford didn’t do well in the big market and big media of Boston after playing in a much more relaxed environment in Tampa Bay for nine seasons, who’s to say L.A.’s media scrutiny and the high expectations surrounding next year’s team won’t have the same effect on him?
With hesitation in mind, why not write him off completely? Why bother?
Because Crawford won't be the next Jones, and for one very fundamental reason: work ethic.
While we'll never be able to venture into the head of the star-turned-mediocre-at-best outfielder who was once on record-setting pace with the Braves, it seems that somewhere along his baseball journey, Jones lost his passion for the game. It was just evident in his play.
However, Crawford still possesses that raw ardor for the game that will lead to his success after a rough stint with the Red Sox. A self-proclaimed hard-worker, Crawford will take the necessary steps to get him game back to par.
Not only will his work ethic help him achieve success in L.A., but the circumstances of his arrival on the Blue Crew will also prove beneficial to his performance with the Dodgers.
Due to his recovery from surgery, Crawford wasn't subjected to the massive media pressure that his fellow Dodgers teammates were when they made their grand arrival to their new hometown. Less pressure equals less stress, even if only for the offseason.
In addition to the lessened media scrutiny that stemmed from his surgery, he will also be able to focus on his game more after having to sit out for months with an injury. Sometimes all it takes is a break in the routine to mend a situation, and Crawford's recovery time can only prove positive for him.
Now that the Dodgers have finally cut ties with Jones' contract, they certainly don't need to pay another pricey outfielder to play for another team down the road.
Crawford is owed $82 million over the next four seasons—and all of that money will be paid for him to play in Dodger Blue.