Just last month, Brandon Crawford made history for the Giants when he played in his 1,326th game at the shortstop position, the most of any Giants player in history.
The shortstop position is one that he has played with grace over the past decade, securing three nods to the All-Star game and winning three Gold Gloves in the process.
The 34-year-old was drafted nearly 13 years ago in the 4th round of the 2008 MLB Draft, and to this point has racked up almost 11 years of service in the MLB.
Brandon Crawford Impressive Form | By The Numbers
Crawford has always been a player that has been known to pride himself in his defensive acumen and ability, and that is highlighted by his best memory of his big league debut being his first ground ball, not the go-ahead 7th inning grand slam he had later in the game.
But this season, he has brought his offensive game to new heights, helping lead San Francisco’s mash-up of forgotten stars to the best record in baseball at 54-32.
Crawford is producing some of the best splits of his career at the plate this season, posting a .275 batting average, .355 on-base percentage, and a slugging percentage of .537. All of these numbers would be the best of his career, and very comparable to his 2015 season in which he played well enough on both sides of the field to place 12th in MVP voting.
While I don’t think he will get MVP voting this year, his impact for the surging Giants cannot be denied!
Crawford has nearly surpassed the highest home run total of his career from six years ago with 17 home runs on the season so far, and we haven’t even reached the All-Star break. His highest total came in 2015 when he hit 21 out of the stadium.
And for kicks and giggles, he has added on 55 RBIs to this point in the season, being one of the biggest contributors to the Giants most efficient offense in baseball.
After reading these statistics, it is no surprise that Crawford earned his third All-Star appearance this year and his first since 2018.
Where Did This Improved Production Come From?
Brandon Crawford is the perfect example of the sayings, “aging like a fine wine” or “with age comes wisdom”, because he has certainly reached a new level in his game this season from the plate.
Much of that can be attributed to his improved plate discipline.
Earlier in his career, Crawford often chased pitches that were outside of the zone, leading to frequent strikeouts or ground balls. But this season, He’s laying off pitches outside the zone more often, with a better chase rate of 29.8%, his lowest since 2014 and down from an abysmal 35.6% last year.
And if he is chasing less, that means he is selecting more pitches within his range and zone, which has increased his ability to get contact on the ball. He boasts a barrel rate of 17.1% which is good enough to be higher than some of the best hitters in the league such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Nelson Cruz.
Couple these two statistics, along with his ability to put more lift in the ball to avoid ground balls (32 extra-base hits), you have an improved Brandon Crawford at the dish. And he has not shown any signs of inconsistency this season.
Giants Aging Lineup
This spectacular season thus far by the Giants was completely unexpected.
There are a few familiar faces that are held over from San Francisco’s Even-Years dynasty, Crawford being one of them, but nearly a decade removed from the World Series success, this production is entirely out of the blue.
Along with Crawford, the other holdovers include 34-year-old catcher Buster Posey and 33-year-old Brandon Belt both of which are having themselves a renaissance year of sorts.
Adding in veterans that were acquired from the outside in recent seasons, like Evan Longoria and starting pitchers Kevin Gausman and Anthony DeSclafani seems to have struck gold where they have been able to compete well, particularly in an NL West division that contains the talented San Diego Padres and the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Early in the season if you asked me if this would continue, I would highly doubt it. But here we are nearing the end of the first half and entering the All-Star break, and they still maintain the best record in baseball.
With an expiring contract this offseason, Brandon Crawford has done a stellar job positioning himself for a solid payday in a stacked shortstop free agent market, one that includes Corey Seager, Javier Baez, and Trevor Story to name a few.
While he is reaching the end of his career, and his age could take a toll on him, he still holds great value at his position because of his newfound production from the plate this season and his still above average play on the defensive end.
But being that he is from the Bay Area, and he has spent the entirety of his MLB career in front of the San Francisco faithful, I find it hard to believe that he would ever leave.
And why would he? The place is great to live in, and more importantly, his resurgence has helped push the Giants back into World Series contention.
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