So, remember back in December when the Boston Red Sox signed outfielder Carl Crawford to a ridiculous seven-year, $142 million contract when they already had several expensive outfielders under contract, plus a few solid prospects in the minors? Yeah, that turned out well.
The 30-year-old Crawford finished his first year in Boston on a low note of course, as the Red Sox completed their epic meltdown on Wednesday night…and Crawford was involved, as he failed to catch a sinking line drive on the game’s final play.
Crawford finished the season with a career-low .255 batting average, while hitting 11 home runs and driving in 56 run. He also walked just 23 times, and struck out 104 times in the 130 games he played. The nine-year veteran also stole just 18 bases (down from 47 last year), his on-base percentage dropped almost 70 points (from .356 to .289) and his OPS dropped from .851 to .694.
From 2003-10 as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays Crawford was an All-Star four times and developed into one of the more dynamic players in the American League. During that time he hit .299 with a .340 OBP and a .788 OPS. He averaged 13 home runs, 70 RBI and 50 stolen bases per year. He also averaged 177 hits and 93 runs in roughly 146 games per season.
So why the major drop off? It could be that Crawford had always played in an incredibly low-pressure situation in Tampa Bay. Let’s face it, if Crawford sucked with the Rays, no one cared. Now, making a ton of money for a huge market team, Crawford was obviously thrown into completely uncharted territory.
Obviously Crawford is 30 and may have already peaked. For some reason the Red Sox thought it was wise to invest an average of more than $20 million a year in him. Now they’re stuck with a guy whose WAR (which is a very important stat explained here) at the end of the 2011 season was 0.0. Yes, you read that right.
So while everyone searches for people to blame for Boston’s epic collapse, I’ve already got my scapegoat, and his name is Carl Crawford.