Link 9-25-2011: Carl Crawford’s defensive woes

As I noted at the time we signed him, Carl Crawford is not exactly an MVP-type player at the plate. But one of the main attractions with him was the caliber of defense he could provide in left field. I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time, but Alex Speier today points out that Crawford’s defense has not been good all year, for whatever reason. There have been some obvious and costly mistakes this season, and the numbers don’t look very good. While he’s only been charged with two errors, he’s registered only 1 outfield assist and just 225 putouts this year, the lowest totals of his career since his rookie season in 2002, when he played roughly half the amount he has this year.

Sabermetric measures also bear this out – John Dewan’s DRS has him at -4 plays on the year, and UZR sees him as -1.9 runs, or a below average left fielder. These are both far cries from his +17 DRS and +21.0 UZR average over the last three seasons. Is it that much harder for Crawford to play in front of the Monster? The consensus around baseball is that Fenway’s left field is one of the easiest to play, since there’s so little ground to cover. Maybe UZR is thrown off by adjustments made to the Fenway measurements the past year or two. But however you slice it, Crawford’s been average or below average as a left fielder this year. Add in his poor hitting season, and you can see why Red Sox Nation is calling for his $140M head.

The beat reporters have interviewed lots of players and managers, and they seem to think the same thing – Crawford is pressing too much. He’s always been the model player, a hard worker, one of the first to get to the park, and all that. But the pressure of a huge free agent contract his him trying to do too much, and his slow start made him tighten up all the more, as he felt like he had to try and justify his huge deal. Just try and relax, Carl. No one expects you to hit 30 HRs and steal 100 bases. My worry is if he can’t relax, we might have ourselves another Edgar Renteria on our hands.


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