2012 Red Sox Player Preview: Carl Crawford

It's a new year and Crawford is looking for new results in Boston

Carl Crawford has a lot to prove this season in his second campaign with the Red Sox.  His first year in Boston was marred by sub-par play and injuries.  He posted some of the worst offensive numbers in his career and topped off his nightmare season by failing to catch a line drive that proved to be the game-winning hit for the Orioles’ Robert Andino in the last game of the season.  Crawford hopes to show Red Sox fans that he is still the same player that they saw for all of those years down in Tampa.

Here’s a look at Crawford’s 2011 season (career highs in parentheses):

Games: 130 (156, 2005 & 2009)
Average: .255 (.315, 2007)
On-Base Percentage: .289 (.364, 2009)
Slugging Percentage: .405 (.495, 2010)
On Base plus Slugging (OPS): .694 (.851, 2010)
Home Runs: 11 (19, 2010)
Runs Batted In: 56 (90, 2010)
Runs: 65 (110, 2010)
Doubles: 29 (37, 2007)
Walks: 23 (51, 2009)

2012 Season Outlook:

Crawford is determined to right the wrongs of his debut season in Boston and he may have been a bit too determined.  After working feverishly to get back from off-season wrist surgery down in Fort Myers Crawford recently suffered a setback.  Now it looks like he may have to join the team after the beginning of the season.  It would probably be for the best for Crawford to make sure that his wrist is 100% right before he starts what he hopes to be his rebound season and if he has to miss a few weeks so be it.  This is an important year for Crawford and he doesn’t need to prove that he’s tough, he just needs to prove that he can still play at an high level.

Crawford will try to get back to basics in 2012

Crawford had his best offensive season in 2010, the year before he came to Boston.  I suppose it is possible that he just suffered a tremendous drop-off in skills from ’10 to ’11 but Crawford is only 3o years old and he should be in the middle of his prime.  Maybe he had trouble adjusting to the bright lights of Boston.  Maybe he was uncomfortable bouncing around in the lineup.  Maybe he just tried too hard.  Whatever it is I’m not saying that he is going to bounce back and have a huge season but at the same time it’s hard to believe that the player that we saw in Tampa Bay is completely gone.  Obviously his health is his #1 concern at this point but when he’s ready I think we see more of the Tampa Bay Crawford than the one we saw last season.

Crawford is just trying to get back to basics this season.  He is trying to get back to the things he did in Tampa.  He has brought in renowned base-running coach Mike Roberts to help him get back to being the base runner that he was in Tampa Bay.  He had only 18 stolen bases last year.  He had over 45 stolen bases every year that he was in Tampa with the exception of an injury-marred 2009 when he had 25.  Of course he has to get on base to steal bases.  Crawford’s never been a big OBP guy but look for hitting coach Dave Magadan to try and work with him on his patience to see if he can get on base more and turn some walks into doubles.  Also look for him to use his speed more to get on base.  That means more bunts and more hitting to ground contact and trying to leg them out.

Expect to see more stealing from Crawford this season

Crawford admitted that due to his salary and the fact that he was hitting towards the middle of the order that he tried to be more of a slugger than the hitter he had been earlier in his career.  He also admitted that he had lost confidence in his own abilities for the first time in his career.  I think Crawford was able to take a step back after the season and reflect on hi first season in Boston and see what he did wrong and what he has to do to correct it.  It really comes down to getting back to the basics for Crawford and if he can do so he can probably regain the success that he enjoyed in Tampa Bay.  It sounds like Valentine is going to move around the lineup depending on match-ups but it would probably be in the best interest for all involved to keep Crawford near the top of the lineup where he has been most comfortable in his career.

I don’t foresee an MVP type season coming from Crawford but I do expect to see something better than we did last year from Carl.  Considering that the Red Sox had the best offense in the majors last season despite Crawford’s sub-par production an improvement in Crawford’s offensive game could go a long way in keeping the Red Sox among the American League’s elite.  Crawford, along with Josh Beckett, is really the poster boy for redemption in a season where redemption is the theme for the entire franchise.  Red Sox fans should take a wait and see approach to Crawford.  Crawford needs to be an important player for the Sox during the summer months from June to August.  If he can become another fire starter at the top of the lineup for the Red Sox it could be another great year.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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