Carl Demonte Crawford
(The Perfect Storm)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 2", Weight 219 lb.
- High School Jefferson Davis High School (Houston, TX)
- Debut July 20, 2002
Carl Crawford, as a high schooler, was heavily recruited as an option quarterback by the University of Nebraska. Crawford also had a basketball scholarship from UCLA. He was selected by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 2nd round of the 1999 amateur draft. Crawford hit .219/.257/.281 as the left fielder for Team USA in the 2001 Baseball World Cup.
Not a particularly patient hitter, his career high through 2008 was only 37 walks, but he improved somewhat in later years. However, Crawford was one of the speediest players in baseball, leading the American League in stolen bases four times, and in triples three consecutive years (2004-2006). He was a key part of the Rays team that reached the 2008 World Series, even though he missed over 50 games and had by far his weakest year with the bat that season. He hit only .273 after five seasons with an average over .280, with a ridiculously low total of 12 doubles, but he bounced back with a pair of .300+ seasons the next two years, giving him a string of 5 out of 6 seasons hitting over .300. He was at his best in the 2008 ALCS however, going 10 for 29 with 3 runs, 4 RBI and 3 stolen bases against the Boston Red Sox to help push the Rays into the Fall Classic. On May 3, 2009, again against the Red Sox, Crawford tied a modern major league mark with six stolen bases in one game. Eddie Collins, Otis Nixon and Eric Young are the only others to have stolen 6 bases in a game since 1900. That year, he was voted the MVP of the All-Star Game after robbing Brad Hawpe of a home run by climbing over the left field fence in the 7th inning. His 2010 season was a career year. He hit .307 with 19 homers and 90 RBI - the latter two figures personal bests - led the AL with 13 triples, and scored 110 runs, another career high, for a team that finished with the best record in the circuit. He finished 7th in the voting for the 2010 American League Most Valuable Player Award. He won both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger Award for the first time that season. At the end of the year, he had played 9 seasons for Tampa Bay and was the all-time franchise leader in games played and many other offensive categories.
His career year coincided with the end of his contract with the Rays, making him one of the most sought-after free agents that off-season. He ended up signing a 7-year deal with the Boston Red Sox worth $142 million. Expectations were very high for Crawford and his teammates, but both got off to a slow start; the Red Sox recovered to be in the playoff picture until the very end of the season, but Crawford never really got going in 2011. Bothered by various nagging injuries, he played only 130 games and hit only .255, the lowest batting average of his career, with only 65 runs scored. He started the season batting first or second in the line-up, but was demoted to the lower reaches of the batting order on April 17th when batting only .127, in the hopes that relieving some of the pressure would help him snap out of his funk. His average did not stay in the doldrums, but he never really got going either, and continued to bat between the 6th and 8th spots for the remainder of the year. The Red Sox lost out to his old team, the Rays, on the last day of the season, and missed the playoffs altogether. The bad news continued in the off-season, as he had to undergo surgery on his wrist on January 17, 2012, a procedure that meant he would miss the start of the next season. Literally adding insult to injury, Red Sox owner John Henry then stated that he had been "personally opposed" to signing Crawford the previous off-season, but had let his baseball men make the final decision.
Crawford was hoping to bounce back with the Red Sox in 2012, but got off to another frustrating start, this time because of injuries. he was shut down during spring training after experiencing inflammation stemming from off-season wrist surgery, and remained in Florida when the team headed north to start the season. He then began to feel pain in his elbow, and on April 26th, after a visit to famed elbow specialist Dr. James Andrews, got the bad news that he had a sprained ligament, setting back for many more weeks. He finally returned to the team on July 16th, having missed the season's entire first half. However, it was now his left elbow giving him trouble, and in late August, the Red Sox announced that he was consulting with Dr. Frank Jobe with the view of undergoing Tommy John surgery. The surgery was performed on August 23rd, ending his season after only 31 games with a batting average of .282, with 23 runs and 19 RBI. Had he been able to maintain such a rate of production over a full year, the Red Sox would have been satisfied, but given he was on the field for barely a month, it had to be chalked up as another major disappointment. Two days later, his short unhappy tenure with the Red Sox ended in dramatic fashion, when he was included in a blockbuster deal with Los Angeles Dodgers that also saw 1B Adrian Gonzalez, P Josh Beckett and IF Nick Punto head to the West coast, with a combined $260 million in salary obligations. Crawford's stint with the Red Sox had been a complete fiasco, and in his autobiography published in 2013, his former manager Terry Francona shed some light on some of the thinking behind his signing by the Sox. According to the book, the Sox brass were concerned about falling ratings for NESN and decided that they needed a "sexier" team to appeal more to women viewers. Thus the handsome Crawford and Gonzalez were added at great cost, even though their arrival helped to upset the chemistry of a winning team.
Crawford was with the Dodgers for the opening of spring training in 2013, but soon experienced nerve irritation in his left arm. He was ordered to rest, making it unlikely that he would be ready for opening day. However, those fears were unfounded, as he was in the line-up as the season started, playing every day and hitting like his old self. On April 28th, he beat the Milwaukee Brewers almost by himself, hitting a homer off Kyle Lohse on the first pitch of the the game, and adding a second solo shot against him in the 5th to account for all of his team's runs in a 2-0 win. He played 116 games that season, hitting .283 with 6 homers and 31 RBIs and scoring 62 runs. He was outstanding in the postseason, going a combined 13 for 42 (.310) with 4 homers in two series as the Dodgers were eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. In 2014, however, he was down to 105 games, but did hit .300 with 8 homers and 46 RBIs. The Dodgers faced the Cardinals again in the postseason, this time in the NLDS and he went 5 for 17 (.294) in 4 games. Injuries were then a big problem in 2015, as he was down to 69 games played. His average fell to .265, with 4 homers and 16 RBIs and he was 1 for 12 when the Dodgers lost to the New York Mets in the NLDS.
Crawford's production with the Dodgers was a disappointment given his huge salary, and by 2016, he had become an afterthought. He only had 81 at-bats in 30 games over the first two months of the year. hitting .185 without a home run and 6 RBIs. On June 5th, the Dodgers bit the bullet and had him designated for assignment in spite of the fact he had $35 million left on his contract.
Crawford is the cousin of J.P. Crawford.
- 4-time AL All-Star (2004, 2007, 2009 & 2010)
- 2009 All-Star Game MVP
- AL Gold Glove Winner (2010)
- AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2010)
- 4-time AL Triples Leader (2004-2006 & 2010)
- 4-time AL Stolen Bases Leader (2003, 2004, 2006 & 2007)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (2004, 2005 & 2010)
- 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 5 (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 & 2009)
- Stolen bases, game, 6, 5/3/2009 (tied)