The Boston Red Sox have owned the off-season in baseball this season as they have added two in their prime impact players in 1B Adrian Gonzalez and OF Carl Crawford. The latter signed a seven year deal last night and will now patrol the Beantown OF for quite awhile. Fantasy baseball players everywhere no doubt were tuned in to this bit of news and there is great excitement whenever an already star player goes to an even better hitting situation such as with Crawford moving into Fenway Park and that stacked lineup. So upon signing his awesome contract, now would be a good time to evaluate Crawford for 2011 fantasy baseball.
Carl Crawford and I have had an up and down relationship over the years and I must admit to you that ia have NEVER ownded the guy in either of my two fantasy baseball money leagues since he came into the league. Let me explain. When Crawford first came up and through the early part of his career, I considered him to be just a little better than a fantasy baseball speed demon. I was always shocked when fellow owners drafted Crawford in the second round of drafts and I never felt like I was missing out much here. Over the last two years however I have finally come around to how good of an OF option Crawford is in fantasy baseball. The fact that OF is not as deep as many think only enhances the fact that Carl Crawford is once again a top notch guy for this season and his move to the Boston Red Sox has placed him at the top of the list at his spot.
As far as Crawford and his value is concerned, he of course is still known mostly for his stolen bases and with good reason. The last two seasons Crawford has gone for 60 and 47 stolen bases and so mroe of the same is a given at least for the next few years. He does turn 30 years old this season but he is not getting away from the turf in Tampa Bay and thus the wear and tear on his body will not be as great. That means the steals wont be fading away yet. The Red Sox have been one of the more aggressive teams on the basepaths the last few seasons and so Crawford should have many oppportunities to pilfer again.
The other aspect of Crawford’s game that could see a nice boost is in his power. Many in the fantasy baseball community have been waiting for Crawford to clear the 20 home run barrier and surely there has been some disappointment that he hasnt gone there yet. Still he hit 19 last season and he surely stands a great chance of passing that number this season in the always fun to hit in Fenway Park. The 30 HR season many initially forecasted for Crawford will never happen but 25 is without a doubt possible which would elevate his status further.
Finally, the issue of where Crawford will bat in the lineup is key. If he leads off, than Crawford’s value would be at its highest due to the abundance of stolen base opportunities that he wouldnt get anywhere else in the lineup. He could also hit in the 2 hole or most likely the 3 spot which is where team brass has indicated he would be. If he does hit in the third spot, than Crawford will see a boost in RBI while also seeing a small drop in steals. Either way no matter where he winds up, Crawford will have the numbers.
All in all, Carl Crawford in my opinion is the third best option in the OF for fantasy baseball this season. The ballpark boost is exciting and the total package of stats across the board turns him into someone owners will run over each other to acquire. Toward the latter portion of the first round of your draft this spring, its clear Crawford makes a great selection at that juncture.
2011 PROJECTION: Projection: .309 BA 122 R 22 HR 91 RBI 41 SB