On December 8, 2010 the Boston Red Sox signed Carl Crawford to a 7-year, $142 million deal (1). Crawford had a highly successful 2010 season in Tampa Bay, putting up these statistics:
154 G, 600 AB, .307, 19 HR, 90 RBI, 110 R, 30 2B, 13 3B, .356 OBP, .495 Slugging, 47 SB, 10 CS (1)
While these numbers are excellent, he does not necessarily fit in with Boston. As a left-handed hitter, Crawford was forced to play in a ballpark with a very deep right field wall, which kills his power. Carl Crawford is not Prince Fielder, so he does not hit majestic home runs, which clear the wall by 50 feet. Crawford hits a lot of short home runs, so a deep fence is very tough on him.
Another major aspect of Crawford’s game was his spectacular defense in left field. He has tremendous range, which enables him to cover even the biggest outfield gaps in the majors. The Red Sox signed him to play in an extremely short left field, completely defeating the purpose of his great range. Fenway Park’s left field puts an emphasis on throwing to second, rather than covering ground. Crawford has never had a strong throwing arm, so that outfield is in no way suitable to him. It is also unlike any other outfield in the majors, as fielding balls off the Green Monster requires a great deal of experience, another thing Crawford lacked. Crawford played some games at Fenway, but never enough to feel very comfortable out there.
Crawford’s game has been predicated on mainly on speed, over the course of his major league career. The Red Sox signed him, when they already had Jacoby Ellsbury, who has stolen 70 bases in a season. Dustin Pedroia can also run a bit, so Crawford’s signing just creates a redundancy of talent. With Crawford’s game being predicated on speed, the Red Sox decided to sign him for seven years. That is also ridiculous, as speed players decline earlier than players not reliant on speed. They signed a player with speed, to play for them when he is unlikely to still have said speed, brilliant.
Crawford grew up in Houston, Texas, a warm weather place (1). He played from 2002-2010 in Tampa Bay, another warm weather place, which also has a dome. The Red Sox signed him to play in a cold weather place, clearly not something Crawford is comfortable in. In April 2011, his first month with the Red Sox, he played in these conditions, with these results:
24 G, 97 AB, .155, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, .204 OBP, .227 Slugging, 4 SB, 2 CS (2)
These are more horrible numbers, from a player not suited to his playing conditions.
Lets review. Crawford was:
1) A hitter with limited power, who utilized a short right field fence.
2) An outfielder with great speed, who can cover a lot of ground, but has a weak arm.
3) A speed player.
4) A warm weather player.
The Red Sox signed him to play in a park with a deep right field. Said park also has a small left field, with an emphasis on good throwing. They also signed a speed player to a long-term deal, when they had other speed players. Finally they signed a warm weather player, to play in cold weather. With all these problems he should put up poor statistics. This is an absolutely “imperfect storm”, for the player they call “the perfect storm”. These are said horrible statistics:
2011: 130 G, 506 AB, .255, 11 HR, 56 RBI, 65 R, 29 2B, 7 3B .289 OBP, .405 Slugging, 18 SB, 6 CS (3)
2012: 31 G, 117 AB, .282, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 23 R, 10 2B, 2 3B, .306 OBP, .479 Slugging, 5 SB, 0 CS (3)
Total: 161 G, 623 AB, 260, 14 HR, 75 RBI, 88 R, 39 2B, 9 3B, .292 OBP, .419 Slugging, 23 SB, 6 CS (3)
His defense has also been poor, as he has posted DWAR of -.8 and 0, during his two seasons in Boston (3).
Now on top of that, Crawford needs Tommy John Surgery. That will ensure that he will miss the start of 2013, at a minimum. Missing part of 2013 can almost ensure another year of struggles for Crawford and more anger for the Boston fans.
A poor use of resources, a poor fit, and poor results. Why couldn’t the Red Sox figure that one out?
Can he turn it around? Stay Tuned…