Brandon Crawford: Ring in Reality, Zero in Fantasy

As we make our way through Zach Sanders’ Shortstop End of Season Rankings, we are as obligated to steer you away from drafting some players as much as we are to recommend drafting others. Scrolling down the list, you’ll notice at number 30, we have World Series champion and recent Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award winner Brandon Crawford with a -$7 value. He is, essentially, picking up the rear at the position. While newbies to the fantasy game and perhaps a few Bay Area homers could potentially get caught up in the World Series hype and wait so long on the shortstop/middle infield position that they happily settle for Crawford, it is our responsibility to tell you to snap out of it and get your head right if you want to win. Brandon Crawford ain’t winning you no fantasy championships.

Let’s face it. There are some guys out there that are great for the game of baseball but lousy for fantasy. They may be masterful defenders in the field, making slick plays worthy of an ESPN Web Gem, but with little or no offensive prowess, they are usually best left to the waiver wire. I remember back in the mid to late 90’s when the internet helped blow up the fantasy world and numerous friends of mine in New York were putting together leagues of all sorts. I laughed as guys continued to grab Rey Ordonez far earlier than he ever should have been drafted. He was on the highlight reels virtually every night, making some of the most spectacular plays you’ve seen while all the while offering up a single home run, a small handful of stolen bases, a dreadful average and even more woeful on-base percentage. Well now, here’s Crawford — more than ready to follow the same path.

OK, so maybe Crawford’s numbers are looking a little better than those of Ordonez, but really, not by much. Maybe he offers an extra home run or two, but given the fact that he strikes out 20-percent of the time, has a below-average walk rate, very limited power, minimal base-stealing skills, a batting average and OBP that are circling the bowl, and a spot reserved for him at the bottom of the order, he is not contributing to any sort of a fantasy championship run. And in sifting through his minor league totals, there doesn’t appear to be much growth on the horizon either. With below average contact rates, an 11.4-percent SwStrk% and a 47.2-percent ground ball rate, even a tasty-looking 22.7-percent line drive rate offers very little hope for the future. Some guys just aren’t cut out to hit, comparatively speaking of course.

Even if you were of the mindset that, at 26-years old, Crawford is just entering his prime and is still developing, you’re reaching here. He might be fun to watch on the highlight reel and if you’re a Giants fan, he’s certainly owed a debt of gratitude. But if you find yourself with Crawford on your 2013 fantasy roster, you probably did something very wrong at your draft.



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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

8 Responses to “Brandon Crawford: Ring in Reality, Zero in Fantasy”

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  1. DH says:

    crawford was called up way ahead of schedule last year and had to learn to hit big league pitching on the fly while playing top defensive position. It would be boise to look at his offensive trajectory rather than his stats in toto. He hit much better as the season went on.

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  2. DrBGiantsfan says:

    Not saying I’m going to draft him for my fantasy team, but you might want to take a quick peak at his progress from 2011 to last year and then his monthly splits from 2012.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      I’ve taken more than just a quick peek at Crawford’s numbers and while he hit for a better average in 2012 than in 2011, it took him over 200 more PA to eke out one more home run and he declined in both walk rate and strikeout rate. His month to month in 2012 shows me sub-mediocre offensive numbers for the first four months, a decent August relative to his other unhelpful totals and then a good September where the Giants not only clinched early which takes off a heaping amount of pressure, but also played against zero playoff contenders, all of whom were auditioning a boatload of youngsters from the minors….except L.A. who was fielding the All-Underachieving All Star Team. No matter what miniscule sliver of improvement people want to split hairs to see, Crawford will not be helping any fantasy teams in the near future.

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      • Karl Rove says:

        I disagree completely. It is just way too soon to make a call on Brandon Crawford’s ceiling. I have good cronies, er, I mean, friends in the Giants farm system and they assure me he still has a chance to win a Silver Slugger Award. Trust me.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Uh, did I say I was going to draft him for my fantasy team or recommend anyone else do it?

        Look, you can read whatever numbers you want. I watched most of his games last year including the postseason. He grew noticeably as a hitter. His monthly splits correlate with that observed improvement. I believe, given his age and level of experience that we will continue to see improvement over the next 2-3 seasons. How much improvement obviously remains to be seen.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        In April/May of 2012, Crawford batted .219 with 9 BB and 43 K’s in 174 PA’s.

        Over the last 4 months of the season he hit .265 with 24 BB and 52 K’s in 302 PA’s.

        Just like my eyes told me from watching him play on a daily basis, he not only improved his BA as the season progressed, but he also improved his K and BB percentages and ratios too.

        There is strong statistical evidence that Brandon Crawford is still on the upswing of his career trajectory.

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  3. Near says:

    Slick fielding, no bat shortstops don’t have a place in fantasy, and I don’t see much evidence in Crawford’s minor league numbers to suggest he’ll improve.

    However, Crawford is guaranteed a great deal of playing time at the major league level because of his glove. While the hit tool is mostly rooted in talent, it’s still a skill and like all skills, experience can help harness it. Most field first players are not going to get the consistent playing time necessary for them to develop their hitting. With enough PAs, I could imagine Crawford could improving to something serviceable in crowded leagues.

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