Mariners Report Cards: Shortstop
Our report card continues with the captain, J.P. Crawford! We will look back at Seattle's shortstops 2023 campaign and what we can expect moving forward!
J.P. Crawford is everything you could ever want in a shortstop. A leader on the field, a great athlete, and one hell of a competitor. This season he took things to a whole new level, becoming one of the best shortstops in baseball.
He was arguably the MVP of the 2023 Mariners. His steadiness, consistency and clutch factor continue to show why he is the captain of this team. Let’s take a look back at Crawford’s 2023 campaign and what we can expect moving forward.
After posting back-to-back 103 wRC+ seasons, Crawford exploded as an offensive performer in 2023. His 134 wRC+ ranked second amongst all MLB shortstops, an incredible feat for a player that many thought had reached his ceiling. His 4.9 fWAR was also a career-high, good enough for third in MLB among shortstops.
I don’t know that I have ever seen a player take such consistent at-bats throughout an entire season, and his consistency showed up in his final numbers. He posted a 14.7 BB% and a K% of just over 19 percent, an elite ability to control the strike zone.
His power numbers jumped in a big way too, throttling 19 home runs and 35 doubles on the season. Crawford’s 2023 campaign was special to me because of my relationship with the folks at Driveline, and getting to talk to them about J.P.’s development as a hitter has been really fun.
His dedication to making the necessary changes and maintaining them throughout the season was incredible, and I expect it to continue as he continues to fine-tune his process.
Not only did Crawford show tremendous improvement, but he also consistently showed up when Seattle needed him most. His ability to get the clutch base hit was something Seattle lacked all season long, but Crawford was an exception.
He posted a .688 batting average with the bases loaded this season, with 26 RBI. The Seattle shortstop has developed into the leader of this team and a centerpiece of their success moving forward.
There really aren’t many things to nitpick with J.P. Crawford’s 2023 campaign. Defense is the only thing we can point to, and even that comes with some caveats.
Crawford’s defense has declined slightly with his lateral quickness, as Baseball Savant ranks him in just the 3rd percentile of Outs Above Average. He is very good at coming in and making routine plays, as well as turning double plays around the bag, but his range has suffered over the past few seasons.
If Seattle has a path to finding a shortstop in the trade or free agent market, it may behoove them to move him to second base to up his defensive value. If not, Crawford has shown plenty of capability to handle shortstop even if he doesn’t have elite range.