The purpose today is to answer one question: How should Carl Crawford be valued in your fantasy drafts?
To answer that, we have to answer three other questions first. So, let’s get to it.
- Question 1: What stats does he bring?
The best thing to do first is to look at what Carl Crawford did in 2013.
Carl Crawford: 2013
Those numbers are pretty well in line with the pace of what he’s done over the last few years.
|400 AB's||107 or 108||57||7-8||40||14||.268 or .270|
|500 AB's||134 or 135||71||9-10||50||18||.268 or .270|
You can probably expect an average closer to about .280, as the .269 mark is dramatically skewed by a bad 2011 season. His 2012 average (.282), 2013 average (.283), and career average (.292) are come in well above .269.
Conversely, I don’t think you can’t count on much more than about 40 RBI. Those numbers were a bit aided by batting in an American League lineup. Batting at the top of an NL order with the pitcher right in front of him, there just won’t be many chances for a high RBI total.
You can rely on a pretty decent average, along with solid stolen base and runs scored totals, but you will need to work around his power.
- Question 2: What are the risks?
As we established above, the HR and RBI totals will likely be iffy, but there are other risks with Carl Crawford.
The good thing is that MLB Depth Charts, ESPN, and the Dodgers website all have Crawford playing left field. It makes sense, as that’s where Crawford played at the end of 2013. There’s no real reason to mess with success, right?
Well, right. But, Crawford hasn’t played more than 130 games in any of the last three seasons, so it’s awfully hard to think of him getting more than the 450-500 at-bat range that we went over above.
The big risk is that if he gets hurt early in the year, a very capable outfielder (likely Andre Ethier) will take his place. If Crawford does get hurt and Ethier fills in strong for him, it’s going to be hard to get back on the field. Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp are pretty clear starters if they’re on the field and it’s not inconceivable to think that Crawford will be the odd-man out. With his contract, it’s hard to see the Dodgers trading him, too, so even a healthy Crawford could end up on the bench.
- Question 3: How great are the risks?
Here’s the thing. While the risks are strong, drafting Crawford isn’t an immense gamble.
First – Let’s say the scenario above happens. Carl Crawford takes a trip to the DL and in his stead, Andre Ethier fills in so well that Crawford ends up on the bench. What do you think the chances are that Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Yasiel Puig would play the rest of the season completely healthy?
Like Crawford, Kemp and Ethier have had injury issues recently and while Puig’s built like a house, he plays incredibly aggressive and doesn’t seem to flinch at the wall. He hasn’t dealt with injuries yet, but it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if it happened. Even if Crawford ends up on the bench, the chances of him being a Wally Pipp type all year are pretty slim.
Second — Most importantly, you’re going to be drafting Crawford late in the draft, or even picking him up in free agency afterwards. Now, if you were spending a high draft pick on an injury prone 32-year-old with a capable backup, you’d be an idiot. But spending a late-round pick on him hoping to catch lightning in a bottle is a pretty sound move.
As I said, the risk of him getting hurt and losing playing time is great. But given where he’ll go in the drafts, there’s basically no gamble involved. Those picks frequently end up on the waiver wire early in the year, anyway and more often than not, you’re just hoping to get great value. It’s not a huge downfall if you don’t get it.
- Ultimate Question: How should Carl Crawford be valued in your fantasy drafts?
You can probably figure out by now that Carl Crawford is a back end of the draft guy. In a normal sized league, I wouldn’t take him until your last three picks. Once you get into that range, he’s as good a “hope for the best” option as there is at the outfield position.
At the very least, I think you’ll get a solid three-category contributor for about 120 games. That may not be a starter in all fantasy formats, but he’s definitely a depth guy that can help you stay afloat if you suffer an injury to another outfielder.
If you take an injury prone outfielder like Carlos Gonzalez, backing him up with Crawford may not be a bad idea. The big risk there, of course, is that they’ll both be hurt at the same time. Still, what Crawford can do when he’s on the field makes that a risk worth taking.