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Circling the Bases: Carl Crawford Next Year

Ray Flowers

Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: M-F at 5-8 PM EDT), Ray Flowers has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. You can follow Ray on Twitter (@BaseballGuys), he never sleeps, and you can also find more of his musings at BaseballGuys.com.

Carl Crawford is done for the year as he will undergo Tommy John surgery Thursday. Thirteen games behind the Yankees in the AL East, Crawford apparently went to the Red Sox management and asked if they would allow him to undergo the surgery on his elbow so that he could be at 100 percent by the start of the 2013 season. The timing for those that had waited on Crawford to return and produce couldn't be worse. Look at the numbers that Crawford was putting up in August: .306-2-15-14-3. That's not elite production, but it's certainly impressive work that was aiding many a club. This decision by Crawford will also be a death blow to those few owners that continued to profess faith in the outfielder. At this point, the bandwagon is basically down to a single person on a tricycle.

Crawford appeared in 130 games last season, his first after signing a $140+ million deal with the Red Sox, and his production was well below his established norms all over the board. He only appeared in 31 games this season as it was one injury after another setting him back. That means for roughly $40 million the Red Sox have gotten an outfielder who has hit .260 with 14 homers, 75 RBIs, 88 runs scored and 23 steals over 161 games spaced out over two years. Put aside your anger and disappointment for a second and take another look at those numbers. Crawford has been awful the last two years, there is no way anyone could say otherwise, but his production still led to nearly a 15/20 season with 80 RBIs and 80 runs scored. Do you know how many guys went 15-80-80-20 in 2011? The answer is 10. Ten. Crawford has nearly performed at that level despite being a massive disappointment.

That's my point with Crawford. He's not someone you take in the first round anymore, and he's not someone I'm spending a top-50 selection on next season either. Still, let's remember some salient points with Crawford.

(1) From 2004 to 2010, a span of six years, Crawford was a top-13 fantasy hitter five times. Five. The only time he failed to reach that level was 2008 when he appeared in just 109 games.

(2) Crawford has stolen 45 bases in each of the seven seasons in which he has appeared in 140 games in a season. It's no lock that he will return to that level, but at age 31 it's certainly possible that he will be able to ramp up his work on the base paths at least a bit over the level that he has flashed since he joined the Red Sox.

(3) He's just 31 years old.

I'm not saying everything is right with Crawford and you should go hog wild on him at the draft table next year if his recovery from surgery is going well, but don't forget about him either. He might just end up being a nice value next season.

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Stephen Drew has been dealt to the Athletics for Sean Jamieson in what is basically a salary dump for the Diamondbacks (the A's will pay the $3.3 million due Drew the rest of this season and then they have the option of picking up a $10 million option for 2013 or buying Drew out for $1.35 million). An immediate add in AL-only leagues, Drew has struggled to a horrible line of .193/.290/.311 through 135 at-bats after returning from the horrible lower leg injury he suffered last season. It might be hard to remember given that he has hit .235 with seven homers, 57 RBIs an a .680 OPS over 126 games since the start of last season, but Drew was at one time a pretty solid big league hitter. In fact, from 2007-10, his last four healthy seasons, Drew produced an average fantasy line of .268-15-63-76-7. That's not elite production by any means, but who would really be disappointed if those were the numbers they were getting from their shortstop? Drew obviously is never going to reach the heights once predicted for him, and it's far from certain that he will be able to turn things around in what is left of the 2013 season, but much like Crawford, Drew is someone you will likely be able to get at a great discount in 2013 relative to what his production could conceivably be.

BY THE NUMBERS

.171: The batting average of Josh Reddick over the last month, the worst in baseball for a full time player (he has just 18 hits over 111 plate appearances). Reddick also has a mere .207 OBP while his SLG was .343. Somehow he still has driven in 16 RBI over the 25 games, but it is clear that Reddick has been a shell of his former early season self. He may be hitting a mere .248 now, but he still has 25 homers, has swiped 10 bags, and has more than 60 RBI/Runs. He's been a very productive player when taken in total, no one can argue against that.

.181: The batting average of Dan Uggla over his last 34 games. Given that he hit .221 in his
first 84 games his batting average has fallen to .210 on the year. Amazingly he has 62 RBI and 68 runs scored despite his often inept work at the dish. Somehow Uggla is on pace for 82 RBI and 90 runs scored, and the last time someone reached both of those marks, while hitting .210 or lower was --- never.

.798: The OPS of Paul Konerko since the All-Star break, a span of 28 games. That's a significant step down from Konerko's work in the first half when he hit .329 with a .932 OPS. On the year Konerko has hit .313 with a .896 OPS and he has 20 homers in 393 at-bats for the White Sox.

0.83: The strikeout to walk ratio of the Twins' Samuel Deduno. How amazingly awful is that? The big league average this year is 2.45 for the K/BB ratio. If we take Deduno's number and multiply it by three we get 2.49. Obviously that means his current rate is one third the big league average. How on earth he has a 3.33 ERA through eight starts is beyond me.

2.42: The ERA of Mat Latos over his last eight starts. After posting a 4.13 ERA in his first 17 outings, his hot run since the All-Star break has lowered his season long ERA to 3.56, just slightly above his 3.47 mark last season and his 3.42 career ERA. He hasn't taken that step back that many thought he would after leaving Petco Park.

4: The number of players who have contracts of more than $100 million that are currently on the DL – Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Troy Tulowitzki and Joey Votto. Other $100 million players who have recently been on the DL include the following cadre of names – Ryan Howard, Matt Kemp, Vernon Wells and Jayson Werth. We might be adding another name to the list soon as the Mets are uncertain with what to do with Johan Santana.

6: The number of times in his last 10 outings that Johan Santana has allowed at least six earned runs. It's even worse than it sounds. Johan has allowed at least six earned runs in 5-straight starts as his ERA has gone from 2.76 to 4.85. In those five starts he is 0-5 with 15.63 ERA and 2.58 WHIP. Personally I've never seen a worse run of pitching.

10: The home run advantage of Ryan Braun this year compared to last year through 113 games. Last season Braun had 23 homers through 113 games, this year he has 33. In fact, his production this year can said to be virtually identical to last season when he was the NL MVP. Through 113 games...

2011: .329/.397/.579 with 23 HRs, 78 RBI, 81 Runs and 23 SBs
2012: .306/.382/.591 with 33 HRs, 83 RBI, 79 Runs and 20 SBs

11: The ways that Austin Jackson is hitting .300 this year. Here they are.

.309 overall
.304 vs. lefties, .312 vs. righties
.318 at home, .302 on the road
.323 at night, .300 during the day
.307 on grass, .345 on turf
.421 indoors, .304 outdoors

Too bad he is hitting only .268 in 35 games since the All-Star break.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 7-10 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.