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Carl Crawford Lives!

Carl Crawford ranked #64 in our end-of-season outfield rankings, just above A.J. Pollock, who is only valuable for defense, Matt Joyce, who’s a mildly interesting platoon player, and Ichiro Suzuki, who retired in 2009.

Objectively, that’s not that great. In a 12 team league with three starting outfield spots, it’s well below starting-caliber. But in this specific situation, we can put objectivity on hold for just a second to acknowledge that Crawford actually managed to stay on the field long enough to even find a home in the rankings. Victory! A minor victory, perhaps, but a worthwhile one nonetheless.

Remember, Crawford’s downfall in his two awful years in Boston wasn’t only that his performance was a fraction of what it had been in Tampa Bay, it was that he was rarely healthy enough to play. In 2011, he’d missed a month due to a hamstring strain, then had his spring ruined by wrist surgery. When he was traded to the Dodgers in August of 2012, he’d played only 31 games and was just hours off of Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, an injury that made his availability for Opening Day an open question.

So to say that Crawford was a question mark headed into 2013 is underselling it and then some. But even though Crawford didn’t make his spring debut until March 17, he still managed to be in the lineup for the Dodgers on day one, with some amount of optimism due to obvious changes in his batting stance.

For a while, it worked. Crawford had a red-hot April, and was still hitting  .301/.358/.470 on June 1 when he hurt his hamstring in Colorado. When he returned in July, he had an up-and-down remainder of the season before blowing up in the playoffs, hitting four homers in 10 October games that almost certainly did not help your fantasy team.

So from a Dodgers point of view, merely hoping that he’d be able to play and provide any return at all on that investment, Crawford’s year can be seen as a positive. But what about for fantasy players?

Unfortunately, the results there weren’t quite as good. Crawford is still a solid baserunner (5.o BsR), but the leg injuries and his position on a Dodger team not known for steals limited him to merely 15, a far cry from the days when he’d routinely top 50. A .283 batting average is fine, yet nothing noteworthy, and while you’re not buying him for power, a mere 6 homers is well down from when he’d be almost a lock for double-digits.

That all makes Crawford a decent player, one who won’t kill you in any particular category, but nothing like the star he once was. (Especially if your league splits outfielders by position, since he’s limited only to left field.) Since he can still play some decent defense and lead off, that’s a useful piece for the Dodgers; it’s just entirely less so in fantasy. So long, star-level Carl Crawford. Hello, decent roster guy Carl Crawford.