Brandon Crawford

On the Brandon Crawford bandwagon, for better or worse

It’s not a fun time to be on the Brandon Crawford bandwagon. Crawford’s offense has been worse than the already low expectations most had for him, and his defense — which got him to the majors — has been shaky with 6 errors on the season.

Put it all together and it doesn’t look pretty.

Here is how Grant Brisbee at McCovey Chronicles described the state of the bandwagon:

The Brandon Crawford bandwagon was already a broken Power Wheels Jeep being pulled by a burro. Now the burro is dead. An opossum is chewing on the dead burro and actually pulling it backwards. You don’t have to get off, but I hope you don’t have any appointments. It’ll be a while.

So why in the hell am I still on this bandwagon?

Well for one, I am incredibly stubborn in not giving up on young players, sometimes even going to the point of giving them too much time to develop, like an anti-Bochy. Two, I think a big portion of his early season struggles is due to rotten luck and that with patience he can provide positive value and maybe even be a respectable league average player.

This season Crawford has put 61 balls in play (not counting bunts) and has 14 hits. That is a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .230. As the usual range for the majority of players is between .290 and .310, this points to bad luck.

You may be saying, “Maybe he just isn’t hitting the ball hard and that’s why he hasn’t gotten hits.” Well if we take a look at the type of balls he has put in play we can calculate an expected BABIP for Crawford.

Using the xBABIP tool created by the Hardball Times, based on his batted balls this season we would expect his BABIP to be .312. Using my own tool to determine xBABIP, based on his career BABIP for each batted ball type and then regressing that toward league average, I would expect his BABIP to be .307. Either way, it looks like he’s been a victim of some bad luck.

It’s unlikely that he’ll continue to get a hit on only 23% of the balls in play when his batted ball data suggest that it should be near 31 percent. Going forward I would expect that his BABIP is more likely to be in the .280 to .300 range than in the .220 to .240 range. You can only hit line drives at people so many times.

The projection model I’ve built projects him to put up a .235/.301/.350 triple slash line with a .290 wOBA for the rest of the season. If he plays above average defense (according to UZR he has, but the sample is still too small) he should manage to be an above replacement level player.

Using my rest of the season projections (based on 450 PA and a UZR/150 of +7) and then adding them to what Fangraphs says he has done already this season you get this:







Rest of season














The Giants could certainly do worse than that; last year, non-Crawford shortstops produced just 0.3 fWAR.

From the comments that Bruce Bochy made in the postgame press conference it seems like he isn’t ready to give up entirely on Crawford. That’s good, because he’s probably the best option the Giants have outside of making a trade. Even with a trade, the likely candidates available are all Orlando Cabrera types. Everyone remembers how well that went.

So, for better or worse, I am on the Crawford bandwagon. Feel free to jump on board and hope that we all don’t die of dysentery during the long journey.

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