The Carl Crawford Effect at the Top of the Order

Recently I touched on concerns regarding a possible increase in groundball double plays from the 1st and 2nd positions with John Jaso in the leadoff slot. I decided to look a little deeper into the Carl Crawford effect in 2010.

Carl Crawford came to the plate with a man occupying 1st base with less than two outs in what is commonly known as a double play opportunity 132 times in 2010. In those spots he put up a tidy slash line of .336/.375/.571, also known as fantastic. There were still another 62.5% of the time where Crawford failed to reach safely. Of that 62.5% of the time, 37  times Carl Crawford slapped a groundball fielded by an infielder, prime double play territory. Just twice did that fielded infield ground ball result in a double play. Two out of 132 times. Here is a breakdown of Crawford's groundballs that did not result in double plays based on out state. Runs represents the amount of runs the Rays scored in the same inning after Crawford avoided getting doubled up.


GB RBI Post-Runs
0 Out 19 0 19
1 Out 15 3 12

15 times Crawford avoided an inning-ending double play resulting in 3 RBIs and 12 runs to come.  On the 19 GDIP avoided with no outs, 19 runs scored later in the inning. How does this compare to the Rays most likely to fill in the 1-2 slots this season?


PA

IFGB

DP

DP%

GBDP%

Jaso

63

17

8

12.7%

47%

Damon

120

30

5

4.2%

17%

Crawford

132

34

2

1.5%

6%

Zo vs RHP

81

22

6

7.4%

27%

Carl Crawford not only created runs, he also avoided erasing opportunities for the team with his hustle and speed. Fortunately Johnny Damon is also above-average at avoiding grounding into double plays and a solid option in the two slot. 34 runs crossed the plate after Crawford beat out double plays, but what did it mean for the Rays season?

April 7, 2010

In the fifth inning, Crawford grounds out with no one out advancing Jason Bartlett and Reid Brignac. Two batters later, Evan Longoria stroked a two-out double scoring both runners. The Rays went on to win the game 4-3. One game in hand.

May 29, 2010

In the fourth inning at Chicago, Carl Crawford hit into a fielders choice with a force out at the plate with no one out. Carlos Pena would later hit a bases clearing double with two outs. The Rays would win 8-5. Two games in hand.

July 11, 2010

In the bottom of the 11th against the Indians with the game all square, Crawford grounded into a force out at 2nd base with no one out. He went on to steal second base and then score when Jason Bartlett singled against Kerry Wood. Thats three wins.

August 16, 2010

You might remember this as the Cliff Lee BABIP game. In the 8th inning with one away, Carl Crawford grounded into a fielders choice scoring BJ Upton. Three more runs would cross the plate before the side was retired as the Rays would win 6-4. Four games.

September 24th, 2010

Twice in this game against Seattle, Crawford would ground out advancing runners, with a total of four runs crossing the plate before the innings ended. The Rays would win 5-3.

Thats five wins where Carl Crawford, despite his impressive slash line and other heroics, was not a hero. Other players made the headlines, but may not have had the opportunity had Carl Crawford been a player that is easier to double up. Its true that not all ground balls are created equally, but the overall numbers show that Carl Crawford is nearly impossible to double up. So yes, I do argue that having John Jaso and his 47% of ground balls converted into double plays at the top of the order carries some rally killing risk with our best bats coming up. And yes, without Carl Crawford behind the leadoff spot, it would be nice to have a guy capable of stealing 2nd in front of Damon, or more importantly the double play threat that can be Evan Longoria.

One last point:

Carl Crawford has taken a pounding based on some silly quotes that appear to be taking shots at the Tampa Bay fantendance. Its hard to get excited in front of 12,000 fans, its disappointing to come home after successful road trips, if he knew he would get a standing O he would have tried to have a better plate appearance, yadda yadda yadda. These quotes are off-putting and I can understand fans' anger. However you don't have a 1.5% double play rate and  a UZR of 18.5 by lolly-gagging due to the attendance blues. That is to say I'll take a player like Carl Crawford who busts his hump consistently, but gets irritated by attendance over the average ballplayer who could be misconstrued as lazy but may happen to pay the crowd cheap pop lip service. Crawford's accomplishments for the organization should not be dampened by his recent remarks.

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