It is inarguable that Crawford is the best left fielder in the division. If you don’t accept that fact, you don’t know baseball.
He is coming off a career year. Many pundits (Ron Shandler, among many others) have suggested he may not have peaked yet. In my opinion, their contention isn’t really supported by the evidence. Last year, CC posted the second-best batting average of his career, while setting career highs in HR, RBI and R. He accomplished all of this while his fly ball rate spiked and his line drive rate dipped, and also he failed to draw as many walks as you would like (7% against an 8.6% MLB average).
He had an uncharacteristically high BABIP (.342), while many of his other peripheral statistics (i.e. contact rate, hit percentage, etc.) were right at their career norms, suggesting his success was due, in large part, to good fortune.
The statistical package suggests Crawford will continue to be highly productive for the next several years. But to suggest he hasn’t peaked yet is to suggest his performance could still improve. While I am an ardent Red Sox fan—I can’t quite wrap my brain around that one—in my opinion, last year was about as good as it gets. He is surely playing at the top of his game.
If he performs at this level for the next several years, that would be all right with me.
For fantasy owners: Crawford will almost-certainly bat third in the Red Sox batting order. While Jacoby Ellsbury—hitting in front of the right-handed hitting Dustin Pedroia—will have the green light to steal , it is unlikely the Red Sox will want Crawford running as often while hitting in front of the left-handed hitting Adrian Gonzalez.
With Crawford at first base, Gonzales—the Red Sox’s new first baseman—will enjoy an enlarged “hole” on the right side of the infield. If Crawford runs, opposing teams will take the bat out of Gonzalez’s hands…and the Red Sox did not acquire A-Gon to be intentionally walked. My guess is CC will steal 40 bases, but no more. Also, expect fewer home runs from him now that he will be playing half of his games in Fenway Park (lets say, a dozen).