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.
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) April 18, 2021
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.
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) April 15, 2021
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.
— ThePlayersAlliance (@Player_Alliance) April 18, 2021
Unlike the other 29 teams in the league, African-Americans are truly the heart and soul of this Mariners team that is unique in many ways, as far as today’s baseball is concerned.
Seattle is one of only two teams with multiple black starters in their rotation (Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield).
With 2020 American League Rookie of the Year winner Kyle Lewis beginning his season on the injured list, fans got the pleasure of seeing top prospect Taylor Trammell in the Bigs.
The team also has newly acquired reliever Keynan Middleton, who may have the best dreadlocks in the sport.
one man hype squad Keynan Middleton pic.twitter.com/WB4rYv5p8B
— Lydia Cruz (@TheLydiaCruz) April 18, 2021
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.