Barry Larkin wanted to be a shortstop ever since he was a kid watching his idol, Ozzie Smith, on television. Growing up in the Cincinnati suburbs, Larkin wanted to play for the legendary Cincinnati Reds, replace Dave Concepcion at short and become the greatest shortstop in Reds history. He accomplished that and then some.
J.P. Crawford’s vibes at the plate have been immaculate as he is posting the best hitting numbers of his career through the first few months of the season. He’s especially been a killer at the plate to begin the month of June, showing he can be as effective in the batter’s box as he is on defense with his Gold Glove.
In a season that has been filled with injuries and multiple lineup shuffles for the Seattle Mariners, there has been one constant. Crawford, the starting shortstop, has been a mainstay in Seattle’s lineup appearing in all but one game this season. He has batted leadoff, fifth and seventh, but has not waivered at the plate.
He entered Sunday’s game batting .257 with 19 RBI and three home runs, which have all come within the last month; two of which came last week in games against the Texa Rangers and Los Angeles Angels.
Friday night’s blast against the Angels goes down as the longest home run of Crawford’s short career. On just the second pitch of the game, he sent Angels’ two-way player Shohei Ohtani’s 92mph fastball 430 feet to the right field bleachers.
Crawford came into this season with a few more pounds to help improve his power, although it didn’t show much during the first part of the season. Another improvement he made is seen in his numbers when facing left-handed pitching.
This season, Crawford is batting .328 with six doubles against lefties. To put that into perspective, in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, he hit .242 and in 2019 he only had an average of .160.
The month of June is looking like it will be a prosperous one for Crawford. Entering Sunday, he had a .368 batting average, three doubles, three runs, three RBI and a home run through the first five games.
His defense hasn’t faltered much this year despite the improvements seen on offense. He leads all Major Leaguers in double plays turned with 38 and his Range Factor has him tied for second.
There is still no timetable on when last season’s American League Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis will be back after his meniscus injury. Hence, Crawford needs to continue to be a consistent part of a young Mariners team that is growing each day.
Seattle will travel to Detroit this week for a three-game series against Baddoo Mania and the Tigers.
J.P. Crawford is making a strong case to win back-to-back Gold Glove Awards with a stellar start defensively to this season.
But don’t sleep on Crawford’s bat; he is currently having a career year at the plate and has reached base safely in 25 of his last 28 games.
Last season, Crawford became just the second Black shortstop in American League history to win a Gold Glove, joining Yankee legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, who won the award five times.
During the first quarter of the 2021 season, Crawford has been on guard with his glove. Dating back to April 11th, he has gone 27 straight games without committing an error.
He only has two this season which is good enough for third place in the league, trailing Freddy Galvis, who has one, and MLB Bro White Sox Bat Flipper Tim Anderson, who has yet to commit an error this year.
Crawford, however, has played in all 34 games for Seattle this season, while Anderson has missed a few, so we’ll see if T.A. can keep at this pace.
Crawford is also tied for first with 23 turned double plays thus far.
It’s no surprise J.P. has found success defensively, but this season he has answered many people’s questions about his offense with his performance at the plate.
J.P. Crawford (@jp_crawford) extends his hitting streak to 8 games, which ties a career-high.
We have seen Crawford’s batting average climb each year since his rookie campaign with the Phillies and this year continues that trend.
He is batting .264 with 12 RBI and 15 runs scored in 2021. He has been using the entire field and putting the ball in play as much as possible during his current hot streak to make up for not slugging multiple homers.
J.P. Crawford’s youthful exuberance has been infectious within the confines of the Seattle Mariners clubhouse and the young shortstop’s energy, bat and glove has been a driving force in helping the former cellar dwellers reach the 10-win plateau Sunday.
This is a resilient Seattle team to watch as they have piled on multiple comeback efforts this season enroute to becoming the second team in the American League to reach double-digit dubs.
That includes Sunday’s series-clinching win against division-rival Houston Astros, highlighted by Crawford scoring from first on a triple to take the lead and firing up Mariners fans while crossing the plate.
There hasn’t been this much youthful exuberance, Black excellence and optimism since Ken Griffey Jr. was flicking moonshots and scaling stadium walls in a single bound, back in the nasty 90s.
Last Sunday, Crawford finally got his season batting average over the Mendoza Line. He is now hitting .275 with 7 runs 14 hits and 3 RBIs, including a huge go-ahead two-run double en route to his Mariners sweeping a doubleheader against Baltimore.
It’s great to see Crawford finally start to exhibit some consistency at the plate as he has always been a stopper on the defensive side. The power’s not there yet, but he’s a work in progress on the serious upswing.
Last season, the 26-year-old shortstop out of Lakewood, California became just the 17th black infielder in major league history to win a Gold Glove, doing so in just his fourth season.
Crawford was drafted 16th overall in the 2013 draft out of high school by the Philadelphia Phillies. It was clear at an early age that he was a wizard with the web. He started on varsity as a freshman and broke school records for hits, runs, steals and walks. He was traded to Seattle in 2019.
Crawford is just the second black shortstop to win a Gold Glove in the American League, joining five-time winner Derek Jeter who had three straight from 2004-2006. Jimmy Rollins, Ozzie Smith, Ernie Banks and Maury Wills each won the award in the National League.
In total, only 17 black infielders have won Gold Gloves in their careers, seven since 1996: Dee Strange Gordon, Orlando Hudson, J-Roll, Derrick Lee, Brandon Phillips, Derek Jeter and the newly added J.P. Crawford.
Crawford, whose cousin is former Tampa Bay Rays and Houston native Carl Crawford, finished last season with a career-high .986 fielding percentage on 221 chances. He was tied for the league lead with seven defensive runs saved.
Although you may have to stay up late to watch the west coast Mariners, they are one of the more diverse and youth-infused squads in the entire league. Crawford is not only making a name for himself on the field, but he’s all in on improving race relations in the country and showing his support for all social justice initiatives.
Crawford will look to join a short list of legendary shortstops who have won multiple Gold Gloves (Derek Jeter, Ozzie Smith, Jimmy Rollins and Maury Wills).
As for his team, the American League West is wide open and after only being a few games out of a playoff spot last season, the Mariners are looking to take that next leap into the upper echelon of MLB clubs.
With young, athletic and gifted leaders like Crawford on the job, it’s a definite possibility.