Carl Crawford Will Have a Bounce Back Year

March 1, 2012
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Before the 2011 season, the Boston Red Sox signed a left fielder to a 7 year $142 million dollar contract and he was not worth the money last year. This left fielder, Carl Crawford, was a four time all-star, gold glove winner, silver slugger winner, and an all-star game MVP, with the Tampa Bay Rays. With the Red Sox in 2011, he set career lows in many offensive categories such as stolen bases, batting average, walks, triples, runs, and on-base percentage. Carl Crawford was very bad last year. This year, Carl will thrive in proving he is worth his huge, luxurious, and lengthy contract. He will do so because he has blazing speed, will be correctly placed in the lineup, will be comfortable in Boston, and he will be fully healthy.

In 2011, Carl Crawford’s 18 stolen bases were the fewest he has had since becoming an everyday player in 2003. His 0.75% stolen base percentage was also the lowest since this he was a starter. Last year, it was like Carl Crawford had never run the bases before. This season, the Red Sox new manager, Bobby Valentine, has said that the Red Sox will be more aggressive on the bases and this will benefit Crawford greatly. Crawford’s speed is the greatest asset to his game. His ability to cause havoc on the base paths makes him one of the top outfielders in all of baseball. From 2003-2010 Carl Crawford finished in the top 5 in the MLB in stolen bases every year except for in 2008 when he was limited to 109 games due to an injury. If Carl Crawford gets more opportunities to run he will be a much more productive player and he will be what the Red Sox paid $142 million dollars for.

Carl Crawford never had the chance to steal as many bases as he did with the Tampa Bay Rays partially because of his placement in the batting order. Last year, Crawford batted in 7 of the 9 positions in the batting order. Crawford never had a chance to settle into a single spot in the order, since he spot was changed on a game to game basis. When he did settle into a spot, he was not great but did a better job than when getting moved around. Carl had 421 at bats in the 6-8 position. When he was in these spots he hit a combined .280 but when he was placed anywhere above this in the order, he hit only .129. While in Tampa, he primarily batted 2nd or 3rd in the lineup. In, 2011 Crawford only had 50 at bats in the 2nd and 3rd position combined. In Boston, Carl never really got to hit at the top of the order, which is where he would have liked to. Crawford does have a chance to get back to the top of the lineup. The Red Sox new manager, Bobby Valentine, said he will use numerous lineups at first to try to get a feel for where everyone should hit. This will benefit Crawford so he can show Valentine that he belongs at the top of the order. If Crawford finds his way to the top of the order, he will be comfortable with the Red Sox. He will also need to get used to other things in Boston to fit in here.
Carl needs to adjust to being in Boston in order to be a four time all-star like he was in Tampa Bay. He had enormous expectations to live up to after signing a 7 year deal worth $142 million dollars with the Red Sox. He had never faced the type of pressure he faced last year. In Tampa Bay, the team would struggle to get fans to go to the games and it was a loose atmosphere. In Boston, it is hard to get a ticket and fans get all over a player for making an out, let alone hitting .155 after one month. Carl had never faced this type of pressure and it got to him since he struggled early on. Crawford came to Boston with Tampa Bay being the only team he ever knew. He got drafted by them and came up through the minor leagues there. It was a new environment coming to Boston and it made him feel uncomfortable. This season, Crawford will have been in Boston for a whole year and will have adapted to his new home.
Carl will also need to learn how to handle hardships. He had never faced adversity before coming to the Red Sox. He had never failed before. Carl said this in an interview this offseason, "When I woke up every day, I was hoping I'd be myself, that I could be the old Carl Crawford. I didn't understand why I was going through what I was going through. It was a hard time." This bad season will have helped Crawford in the long run of his career. Now Crawford will have dealt with a major struggle and it will benefit him if he starts to slump. He will know how to deal with the problem and will handle it better than he did last year.
Another reason why Carl Crawford’s 2011 season was bad was because he lost his confidence early on in the year and he never regained it. Crawford hit .155 in April and was awful. He was dropped to the bottom third of the order, after just a week, struggled for a month, and never was quite right for the rest of the year. Carl said this during the spring training in an interview about why he struggled, "It was everything ... It was the mental part of dealing with the media, and all that stuff kind of got hold of me. It was downhill from there, and I could never turn it around." If Crawford gets off to a good start, his confidence will be high and he can perform like a player worthy of a $142 million dollar contract.

Lastly, Crawford will have a good 2012 because he will be fully healthy. When he went on the DL last year it was the first time he was on it in three years, which showcases his great durability. Carl being hurt last year attributed to his lack of confidence. Carl never thought he was completely healthy and this put a doubt in his mind as to whether he could perform physically. This year Crawford’s hamstring is 100% healed. He did have wrist surgery in the offseason to fix his wrist that he hurt while preparing for the season. Carl will be fine and will probably be ready for opening day. Once he is healthy, he will be able to physically perform, will regain his confidence, and will play like an all-star.
Carl Crawford, being a four time all-star, is one of the best players in the game. He had a rough 2011 season but he will turn it around this year. He has a proven track record as one of the best left fielders in the game. This season Carl Crawford will steal more bases, will be placed correctly in the order, and will be comfortable in Boston. He will also know how to handle adversity, will know how to regain his confidence, and he will be fully healthy. All of these reasons will help him to have a fantastic 2012 season and regain his all-star form.

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