2017 Phillies Report Card: J.P. Crawford
J.P. Crawford played some baseball in the majors last year. There’s not a lot of #analysis to do with 87 plate appearances, but the real story is that Crawford finally made it to Philadelphia and showed he could handle himself at the highest level. In that limited playing time last September, Crawford displayed the three core aspects of his game that carried him from Lakewood High through the Phillies’ minor league system: an ability to get on base, control of the strike zone, and excellent defense.
Crawford debuted for the Phillies on September 5, 2017 against the Mets in Citi Field or New Shea or Madoff Manor, or whatever they want to call it. He started at third base and batted seventh, and entered the record book with his first major league hit that very night, a bloop single to center field. By the end of the year, Crawford had a .356 OBP, 16 walks against 22 strikeouts, and played at shortstop, second base, and (mostly) third base. Encouragingly, Crawford’s batted ball profile consisted of 26.5% line drives, 30.6% ground balls, and 42.9% fly balls (14.3% of which were infield flies). Again, in limited time Crawford showed the skills he’s been known for since his amateur days, with lots of line drives and a balanced spray (28.6% pull, 30.6% center, 40.8% opposite field). To be fair, his 14.3% hard contact rate was pretty poor, but on the other hand, he’s got a really cute dog.
Don’t read too much into anything else. Yes, Crawford had a .214 batting average. No, he didn’t hit any home runs. He totally stole a base though! Just the one. He slugged .300 and had an 83 wRC+. He was also 22 years old, and don’t even think of saying What About Carlos Correa because as much as everyone loves J.P., he’s just not Carlos Correa.
Before his cup of coffee in the majors, Crawford closed out his minor league career with a .243/.351/.405 triple slash in Lehigh Valley in 2017, including 75 runs (in 556 plate appearances), 15 homers, and a well-balanced diet of 79 walks to go along with just 97 strikeouts. After struggling to start the year, his summer surge (which was never in doubt!) put to rest a lot of loud whispers from a scouting/prospecting/reporting/blogging community that had universally ranked Crawford as a top-10 global prospect in 2016 and a top-15 guy in 2017.
J.P. Crawford had a nice month in the majors. The extra base hits will come, and maybe the power comes along too, but the on-base skills, plate discipline, and defense are already there. For a 22-year old to step in and display above-average plate discipline right away, while moving around to three different positions and handling the intense internal and external expectations that come with being a top prospect in Philadelphia, is very encouraging. Now that the debut and the butterflies are out of the way, it’s time for Crawford to take his place as the heir to Jimmy Rollins’ throne and lock down shortstop in Philadelphia for the next decade.