When the All Star Game 2021 MLB polls opened on June 3, I filled out five polls. I have voted at least once every day since. And each time, I voted for roughly the same team with a few minor adjustments.
“I’m fine. Tyler O’Neill probably deserves a vote. I think I will vote for him once instead of Jesse Winker. ”
“Jesus Aguilar should get a few.” He’s just a little behind Max Muncy. ”
“Devers and Ramirez are so close. I think I will divide my votes on them. ”
One position I have never wavered in has been the short stop for the National League. Every time I came to that section of the poll, I voted for Fernando Tatis Jr. I didn’t even have to think about it. It became second nature – just “Shortstop? Well, it’s Tatis, of course.” I may have flashed at the thought of Trea Turner, but it was never more than a drive-by thought as I ran to find Tatis ’name.
However, last night, I activated the Giants-Rangers game and I had an unexpected surprise. Of course, I knew that Buster Posey was turning the clock back to hit .333 with a .988 OPS. I knew Brandon Belt was activated by the IL. I knew the Giants had gotten a lot of great shows from their starters Gausman, Wood, Cueto, and DeSclafani, and I knew they were a big reason why the Giants had the best record in the National League. I also knew that Brandon Crawford would have taken the field that night as well All-time leader of the Giants in games played at shortstop.
I wasn’t much fanfare for Crawford’s success, which makes sense I think. The game was in Texas after all. I’m sure the Giants ’2008 fourth-round pick will get their much-deserved ceremony when the team returns to Oracle Park. But that incredible success aside, Brandon Crawford also put in the best offensive season of his career and is largely neglected for that.
Yes, B-Craw is an All-Star twice, but if we’re true, his 2018 offer was mainly due to a tremendous first half and the fact that Corey Seager was injured and Trevor Story went to a slow beginning. Crawford finished that season with a .394 slugging percentage. His offense has never been the main attraction. Adonis, with long hair, was a punt at point 6 because of his ability with the glove. He has won three Golden Gloves over the course of his career, and has amassed the value of an encyclopedia of web-gem games ever since. That said, his defense has plummeted in recent years. In 2019, Crawford finished with a saved-10 defensive record. His range factor for nine innings was the lowest of his career, and he put up his second consecutive season with 16 errors. It seemed like it was the end of the Crawford era in San Francisco. Of course, he would probably play here until his contract expired, but there was no way the Giants would get him back.
After 2021 it happened. Among qualified shortstops (Tatis missed too many games to qualify), Crawford is first in OPS, first in weighted average on base, first in weighted run create-plus, and first in slugging percentage. He sets career highs in every offensive category just by the average batting average, and that can be attributed to a string of bad luck that Crawford’s BABIP is just .284 – the lowest among qualified shortstops with at least a .740 OPS.
Yet despite these numbers, we never see Crawford’s name among the best shortstops in the game. Maybe it’s too small a sample size. Maybe it’s because he’s 34 years old. Maybe it’s because he’s had his time in the spotlight and now it’s time to let the next generation get the seats ahead. But when the 2021 All-Star Game happens, if I don’t see Crawford alongside the National League, something is wrong.
I always think Tatis deserves the starting spot. There is no denying that. He’s been electric and has an OPS over 1,000 with 17 home runs and more stolen bases than anyone else in the National League. The place of reservation, however, should go to Crawford no doubt. Trea Turner is the only other NL shortstop whose numbers come close.
I’m ashamed to say that he wanted me until last night to recognize the fantastic Crawford season. Aside from breaking his franchise’s all-time record for shortstop games, Crawford also took advantage of two home games (bringing his total season to 14 – second among shortstops) and had some great defensive plays. including a nice comeback and throw to get Nate Lowe after beating the turn. He is the heart and soul of this Giants franchise and has been without a doubt the most valuable offensive player on the Giants list to date. So, if being the best player on the best team isn’t worth an All-Star year, I don’t know what is.