When Seattle Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford contributed to the franchise’s first playoff appearance in 21 years, it wasn’t at the Chicago Cubs or Boston Red Sox level of ending a decades-long curse, but it was close.
The broken streak ended a stretch of 21 years of frustration for Mariners fans and the longest drought in major North American professional sports.
Crawford, the last MLBbro standing for the Mariners, overcame a minor foot injury in spring training to help Seattle quietly get back in the American League West race this season, winning six of their last 10 games. Even though the team is currently 10-12, placing them fourth in the division, they are one game out in the loss column behind the second-place Houston Astros.
How Are Mariners Winning Games?
J.P. Crawford is finding ways to get on base to spark the Seattle offense. His seven-game stretch has advanced his team from possible bottom feeders of the American League to contenders for making the postseason two years in a row.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 19, 2023
Why Did JP Crawford Get Hot?
Well, it came from adjustments to his swing three weeks ago in the Los Angeles Angels series. After a slow start to the season with only one hit and four strikeouts in his first four games, Crawford began to tighten up the mechanics in his swing. Even though the MLBbro is not releasing all of his secrets about the changes, his new and improved quick bat is leading to harder hit balls all over the field.
Something he shared with The Seattle Times at the time…
“I think it’s just putting myself in a good spot to hit and not taking my body out to the right spot,”
“I’m not rushing,” he said. “I’m seeing the ball and letting it come to me instead of going to try and attack the ball – just stay back and using the whole field.”
The improvements are not lost on Mariners manager Scott Servais, who was singing Crawford’s praises when he got Seattle on the right track on their first road trip with two RBI doubles to pick up a 5-3 win after falling down three runs.
“J.P. Crawford, awesome,” Servais said. “I said about three or four days ago he had made a little bit of an adjustment and we’re seeing that play out day in and day out, right now.”
With his bat clicking, the awesomeness of Crawford’s full game is on display. Regardless of how potent his run production is we know that he saves just as many runs with his lethal leather.
Just check out this play to stop a St. Louis rally…
Look at JP Crawford seal the win for the Mariners 👏 🔥 pic.twitter.com/kjunoeWwOK
— Seattle Mariners ON Tap (@MarinersONtap) April 22, 2023
Could J.P. Crawford Become This Era’s MLBbro Hall of Famer, Ozzie Smith?
In the overall body of work?
No, not a chance…stop it. Ozzie Smith is the epitome and perfect illustration of a G.O.A.T. at a specific skill and position. The Wizard still has no equals with the glove at short. His impact on the game of baseball goes way past statistics.
Even though the “Wizard of Oz” collected 13 consecutive National Gold Glove Awards, 15 All-Star appearances, 2,460 hits and 580 stolen bases for his career, his play drove the popularity of the entire sport of baseball. The 1980s was considered the golden era of baseball in ways of popularity. Ozzie was one of the driving forces. His athletic and acrobatic execution of the shortstop position, his incredible range and cat-quick, graceful movements made him the standard bearer for manning the position defensively.
JP Crawford Has Ozzie Smith’s Leadership Qualities
However, what gets overlooked is the leadership and professionalism that Ozzie Smith brought into the locker room every day for years. Even with the fame and popularity, the MLBbro icon’s consistency when it came to preparation never waned.
This is where the comparison between the “Wizard of Oz” and the “Crawdaddy” can start. Crawford is also considered by many to be the supreme defensive shortstop in the game, winning a Gold Glove in 2021 and getting edged out last season by Astros rookie sensation Jeremy Pena. Who knows what the future holds for the 24-year-old, but he definitely can rack up some more Gold Gloves over the next half decade.
As far as hitting goes, Ozzie Smith was a weak hitter early in his career – a one trick pony sort of speak — but Smith worked on his hitting and became a formidable slap hitter, which allowed him to get on base and use his speed to swipe bags and set the table for the run producers.
Years ago, Ozzie Smith was brought in to provide stability and leadership to an up-and-coming St. Louis Cardinals team, much like J.P. Crawford is doing for the Seattle Mariners today. This leadership for Crawford is driven by a desire to continue the tradition of the Black and brown baseball players going back to the Negro Leagues.
Bottom line, for the Seattle Mariners to be a player in the postseason for the second straight season, the team has to follow the lead of J.P. Crawford by continuing to work on the little things and adjust accordingly to add wins, much like they have of late.