Allen Thomas Craig
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 210 lb.
- School University of California
- High School Chaparral High School
- Debut April 8, 2010
Craig hit .485/.541/.758 with 11 runs and 10 RBI for the USA in the 2002 World Junior Championship, but fielded .857 at shortstop. He helped the US win the Bronze Medal. Canada's Shawn Bowman beat him out for All-Star honors at short. He tied for third in the event in hits (16) and 6th in average. For the summer, his 35 runs were third on the US junior team, 2 behind Delmon Young and Lastings Milledge.
On to college, Allen hit .304 with 8 homers and 13 steals as a sophomore at Berkeley. His junior year, he batted .344. The St. Louis Cardinals took him in the 7th round of the 2006 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Dane Walker and began his pro career that summer.
He made his pro debut in 2006 with the State College Spikes, hitting .257/.325/.400 while playing primarily third base. In 2007, he starred for the Palm Beach Cardinals (.312/.370/.530, 21 HR) and Springfield Cardinals (7 for 24, BB, 2 2B, 3 HR). He was the MVP of the Florida State League All-Star game, in which he hit a 2-run homer. For the year, he was 2nd in the FSL with 224 total bases (7 behind Erik Lis), third in average (or second depending on your source and the cut-off they used for qualifiers), third in home runs (2 behind leader Jacob Butler), 3rd in slugging (.012 behind Josh Kreuzer) and 5th with 77 RBI. He was named the FSL All-Star third baseman. Baseball America left him off their list of the league's top 20 prospects, though, only naming two infielders on the pitcher-heavy list.
Allen had a batting line of .304/.373/.494 for the 2008 Springfield club, with 30 doubles, 22 home runs, 84 runs and 85 RBI. He led Texas League third basemen in both assists (217) and fielding percentage (.941). He led all Cardinals minor leaguers in hits (154). He was 3rd in the TL with 250 total bases (22 behind leader Drew Sutton), 3rd in hits (trailing Sutton and Kyle Blanks), was 5th in home runs and 9th in average. He was named the TL All-Star third baseman, joining Elvis Andrus, Sutton and Kila Ka'aihue as the infielders honored.
Craig was even better in 2009 with the Memphis Redbirds, though he was used primarily as an OF-1B and rarely at third, hurting his value a bit. He batted .322/.374/.547 with 26 home runs and 83 RBI despite missing two weeks with a left ankle sprain. He led all St. Louis minor leaguers in homers, RBI, hits (152), total bases (258) and slugging. He tied Charles Cutler for the best average. All that earned him the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year. He went 2 for 5 with a homer and 2 RBI in the 2009 Triple-A Baseball National Championship but Memphis fell 5-4 to the Durham Bulls. He was 4th in the PCL in average behind John Bowker, Matt Murton and Jerry Owens, 4th in home runs (9 back of leader Mitch Jones), 4th in hits and 3rd with 258 total bases (21 behind leader Terry Evans. He was left off the PCL All-Star team as Bowker, Evans and Matt Miller were picked in the outfield.
Craig debuted in The Show for the 2010 Cardinals on April 8th, hitting 7th and playing right field. He faced Bronson Arroyo of the Cincinnati Reds in his first at-bat and lined out to third baseman Scott Rolen. He finished the day 0 for 4. He split that season between St. Louis and the minors, being sent down at the end of April when he was hitting only .056 after seven games. He made a couple more brief stays with the big league team in May and July before being called up for good on August 3rd. He began to hit much better as he gained experience of the big leagues, and finished the year with a .246 average, 4 homers and 18 RBI in 44 games. He also played 83 games for the AAA Memphis Redbirds, tearing up the Pacific Coast League with a .320 average, 24 doubles and 14 homers and driving in 81 runs.
After his strong minor league performance the previous year, he started the 2011 season with the Cardinals and was red hot at first, until cut down by injuries. He was hitting .336 in 40 games on June 7th when he was placed on the disabled list with a fractured kneecap. After a short rehabilitation stint in the minors, he returned to the Cardinals on August 10th and was a quasi-regular for the remainder of the season. He ended the season with a .320 average in 75 games, with 15 doubles, 11 homers and 40 RBI, with an OBP of .362 and a .555 slugging percentage, good for an outstanding OPS+ of 153. He got a lot of key hits in the postseason, including going 3 for 8 with a homer in the 2011 NLCS against the Milwaukee Brewers, and hitting 3 homers and robbing Nelson Cruz of a homer in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, which the Cardinals won over the Texas Rangers.
After the season, he had surgery performed on his knee, a result of the previous year's injury, and had to miss spring training and the start of the 2012 season while rehabbing. He played his first game on May 1st and quickly became the Cardinals' starting first baseman, given the departure of Albert Pujols via free agency during the offseason, and a knee injury to his replacement, Lance Berkman, which limited the Big Puma to 32 games. He hit .307/.354/.522 for a 137 OPS+ in 119 games, with 35 doubles and 22 homers, driving in 92 runs. He was among the National League leaders in average (7th, between Jordan Pacheco and Marco Scutaro), slugging (7th, between Joey Votto and Aaron Hill), OPS+ (9th, between Aramis Ramirez and Hill) and fielding at first (.995, 3rd, .001 behind leader Gaby Sanchez). He had a pair of hits in the Wild Card Game as the Cards defeated the Atlanta Braves, then went 6 for 19 (.316) with a pair of doubles and a homer when St. Louis upset the Washington Nationals in the NLDS. He was stopped by the pitching of the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS, however, as he only went 3 for 24 while the Cardinals were eliminated in 7 games.
Heading into the 2013 season, he signed a five-year deal with the Cardinals for $31 million, with an option for a sixth season at $12 million, in a move that clearly indicated that Craig was considered one of the future offensive mainstays of the team. He made the All-Star team for the first time that season. Batting clean-up and playing mainly first base for most of the year, he was one of the team's key performers at it won the NL Central title, hitting .315/.373/.457 with 13 homers and 97 RBIs in 134 games. However, he suffered a foot injury just as the season was winding down, spraining his foot on September 4th and was unable to play in the regular season after that date. He still finished 8th in the league in both average (between Andrew McCutchen and Troy Tulowitzki) and RBI (between Hunter Pence and Matt Holliday). He missed the first two rounds of the 2013 Postseason but had recovered in time to be added to the Cards' roster for the 2013 World Series against the Boston Red Sox, being inserted in the starting line-up as the designated hitter in Game 1. Rookie Matt Adams had filled in ably at first base in his absence. He did well in the Series (6 for 16, 2B, R, RBI) but St. Louis fell in six games.
Craig struggled in 2014, as he was hitting only .237 with 7 homers and 44 RBIs after 97 games, while playing mostly in right field following the departure of Carlos Beltran via free agency. On July 31st, with the Cards having difficulty generating offense, they traded Allen and another key contributor to their last few postseason teams, pitcher Joe Kelly, to the Boston Red Sox in return for veteran P John Lackey and minor leaguer Corey Littrell. He played one game for the Red Sox, on August 1st, then had to be placed on the disabled list with a sprained left foot, an injury sustained in running out his first hit with Boston, a double. He returned on August 21st but hit only .128 in 29 games for Boston, giving him a combined batting line of .215/.279/.315 with 8 homers and 46 RBIs. His OPS+ took a plunge from 129 to 66. He then started the 2015 season stone cold, as he was hitting only .135 in 24 games on May 9th. The Red Sox decided to assign him to the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox at that point, although they needed his approval to do so.
Sources: 2003-2010 Baseball Almanacs, 2010 Cardinals Media Guide, Defunct IBAF site
- NL All-Star (2013)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2012)
- Won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011