Friday, November 25, 2011

20/20 hindsight on Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford had an awful year in his first year of his huge contract with Boston. He played like a replacement player, with a 0 WAR and .289 OBP. Before the season he signed a 7 year 142 million dollar contract. Now it is quite obvious that his 2011 season was not deserving of that, that doesn't even merit an article. Because I wasn't blogging at the time the contract was signed, I want to look at his stats before 2011, and see if they merited the contract. 2010 was his best career season at a 6.1 WAR, worth 18.3 million according to the Halladay Standard (Crawford will get an average of 20 million a year with this contract). So even with his best year, it doesn't seem he is quite worth the contract. Another thing that should be mentioned is that in 2010, he tied his career high for BABIP, affecting his season for the positive, but making the season not very predictive. That is why we usually look at WAR average over the last 3 years. From 2008-2010, Crawford had a 12.6 WAR, or 4.2 WAR a year. This is worth 12.6 million according to the Halladay Standard. So certainly Crawford was worth big money, but not the big money the Red Sox paid him. However, when one starts looking at his offensive numbers, we start to realize just how profoundly average Crawford is. His OBP is just .333, matched with a very pedestrian Secondary Average of .266, and an Isolated Slugging of .148. Sure his OPS is + is 105, but his O4S is average at 1.773. These are hardly numbers that warrant a huge contract. It is quite clear that a good portion of his recent WAR is due to defense (for example, he had a 1.8 D-WAR in 2008). However, in 2011, even his defense wasn't very good, as he had a -.3 D-WAR. 2011's poor offensive season can hardly been blamed on BABIP, as it was .299 (that is a drop from his career average of .328, but .300 is league average). So what are the statistical explanations for his down year? He was never much of a walker (just 5.3% in his career), but he walked just 4.3% of the time in 2011 (compared to 7% of the time in 2010). As far as he swinging percentage breakdown, not much really stands out. He did swing at the first pitch just 25% of the time, compared to normal 36% of the time. There could be a couple of explanations for this, but I don't think this is really that big of a deal. He was actually more patient in 2011, earning an average 90.02 PPS compared to his very poor career number of 84.94. As far as his groundball/flyball breakdowns, the only thing that really stands out is that 15% of his flyballs stayed in the infield in 2011, way too many. Other than that, there isn't one thing you can point to and say "this is why he was bad". But in the end, the Red Sox gave way too much money to a player that wasn't all that good offensively to start with, and so far it has blown up in their face.

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