2016 Phillies Report Card: J.P. Crawford

J.P. Crawford, in his age-21 season, made it to the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs for 87 games. Regardless of which prospect list you trust, Crawford is considered a top-3 prospect in all of baseball, as of the midseason updates, and now, the Phillies’ best prospect in years is now knocking on the door of the Big League Club. Many (including myself) would have loved to see him ply his trade against Major League pitchers, but that wasn’t realistic, given that he wasn’t on the 40-man roster and the service time manipulation that teams use to keep players cheaper longer.

If you’re not very familiar with Crawford’s profile, he has a very advanced control of the strike zone for a player his age, and he projects to have a plus hit tool, average power, above-average baserunning, plus fielding, and a plus arm. He has the potential to be a perennial All-Star, and, coming off a 2015 season in which he dominated High-A (192 wRC+ in 95 PAs) before impressing in his first taste of Double-A (121 wRC+ in 506 PAs), expectations were high.

After starting off the 2016 season strong in Double-A, Crawford struggled a bit in Triple-A (90 wRC+ in 385 PAs). After posting better a .138 ISO and a walk rate two percentage points higher than his strike out rate in Double-A, his power and patience took a step back in Triple-A. He posted a .074 ISO and a walk rate nearly five percentage points below his strike out rate.  While the output was somewhat disappointing, it masks the impressive fact that Crawford played the majority of his age-21 season at Triple-A.

Keep in mind too, that Crawford was out for a couple weeks in August with an oblique injury. I always try to be aware of players’ performances pre- and post-injury. I think it says a lot about whether the injury lingered after the player was back on the field. In this case, there may be some truth to that thought:

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A .770 OPS won’t win you any MVPs, but context is important here, as J.P. Crawford was the youngest regular player in the league, and by all accounts, he’s an excellent defensive shortstop. As Brandon Crawford (107 wRC+, 5.8 fWAR) and Addison Russell (95 wRC+, 3.9 fWAR) just showed us, an averageish bat and excellent shortstop defense can make a great player. Phillies fans were spoiled for years by Jimmy Rollins’ combination of excellent defense and baserunning and average hitting. In Crawford, it looks like Phillies fans could be spoiled for years to come.

I’m tempted to give Crawford an incomplete, due to the injury issues discussed above, but that’s really just the homer in me talking. Objectively, Crawford, in his first taste of Triple-A, struggled with advanced pitching and injury. While acknowledging that this season can’t be seen as anything but a step forward, it would have been nice to see Crawford handle Triple-A pitchers better. He’ll be assigned to Triple-A again and, barring injury, will make his MLB debut next year. Watch out, Freddy Galvis.

Grade: B

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12 comments

  1. MplsPhilsFan

    November 23, 2016 01:33 PM

    Excellent article, however, I would say that the assertion that Crawford will be an All Star may be overstated. Look at the NL shortstops, Seagar, Crawford and Russell all look like they will have higher ceilings than Crawford. Not to say he will not be great, I think he will, but we are seeing a renaissance at the shortstop position across baseball

    • John

      November 23, 2016 01:53 PM

      I still look at average, hr’s and RBI and he looked run of the mill

      • MplsPhilsFan

        November 23, 2016 04:12 PM

        Having HR and RBI totals from a shortstop is pretty rare, Corey Seager notwithstanding. He does have a quick bat and will hit for a decent average, along with a pretty good OBP. That, combined with excellent defense, makes him a highly valuable player for a really long time.

      • Romus

        November 23, 2016 07:26 PM

        John……look at Francisco Lindor’s age 21 season at AAA level…..since you look at BA, HRs and RBIs…..here is his, .284 BA, 2HRs and 22 RBIs in 262PAs, and how did he turn out?….JPC is in very close proximity to Lindor …and it is pretty current for Lindor…2015 in the IL

      • Romus

        November 23, 2016 07:32 PM

        John…..also their BB/K rate were virtually identical with the same delta of 4.
        JPC 15%-Krate….11%-BBrate
        FL…..14%-Krate….19%-BBrate

      • Romus

        November 23, 2016 07:33 PM

        oops….mistype….should be 10%BB rate for FL, not fat-fingered 19%

  2. Freddy

    November 23, 2016 02:38 PM

    Just wished JP had a shorter stroke & a quicker bat. All the other super premium prospects seem to have one or more eye-popping tool; JP not so much across the board. But guess neither did Jeter. Think there’s a huge chance JP will just be mediocre in the bigs.

    • Chris S

      November 23, 2016 05:04 PM

      Having a player be good at all things is better than having a player that is great at a couple things and bad at other aspects of baseball. Utley is the perfect example he was really good at every aspect of baseball probably at least a 60-65 on the scouts grading scale (I’m not a scout just making a general guess). I’m certainly not trying to compare JP to “The Man”, but if he can be good in all aspects of the game I will take that over a prospect that only is great offensively but not great defensively or vice versa.

  3. Jerry Spradlin

    November 24, 2016 11:54 AM

    Amazing how many people overlook the fact that Crawford is 21 years old-say it again, 21. Making the pronouncement that he will be mediocre in the bigs is entirely premature.

    • Freddy

      November 24, 2016 11:59 AM

      I made no such pronouncement. I really do wish he becomes a pillar of the team. Just think the hype doesn’t match the actual numbers or the eye test at this time.

      • denzen

        November 25, 2016 04:12 PM

        to quote…..”Think there’s a huge chance JP will just be mediocre in the bigs.” Freddy

      • Freddy

        November 25, 2016 06:40 PM

        he WILL be mediocre =/= HUGE CHANCE will be mediocre.

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