Coco Crisp, defensive wizard?

Apparently a lot of people are beginning to think so. Last season, Coco Crisp made a couple of spectacular saves in centerfield, but when he dove and missed, we were talking two extra bases. He wasn’t getting good reads or jumps on balls and was missing the cutoff man.

This year, the highlight reel catches have continued, but he seems to be improving in center field. A lot. Apparently, Bill James has been raving about his defense, and Seth Mnookin has officially named him the Red Sox first-half MVP. Baseball Musings has done an analysis on Crisp’s defense, and has quantitatively determined that he is significantly better this year than last year.

He was always good, with natural instincts once he got near the ball. The problem was that he didn’t seem to have the feel for where the ball was going to go. Despite logging just under 200 career major league games as a centerfielder up to that point, Crisp played 138 games in left field for Cleveland in 2005. Some upstart named Grady Sizemore had supplanted him there. Maybe it just took some time to get used to playing in center again, or maybe he just needed to build his confidence playing there. Whatever the case, the Sox are benefiting mightily from having Crisp in center. And now that he’s hitting, he might not be traded after all.


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