Analysis

Stressing patience with J.P. Crawford

You heard it right here from skipper Pete Mackanin, J.P. Crawford is not expected to break for PhilJPCrawford2.jpgadelphia when spring training concludes on March 31.

The only scenario where Crawford could make it to Philly is if Freddy Galvis’ groin injury hampers him all of spring. Galvis opted to skip this year’s World Baseball Classic for his native country Venezuela, but mostly as a precaution to get himself right for the six-month grind in pinstripes.

But if Galvis is out for an extended period …

Mackanin squirmed for the right word to express himself regarding Crawford possibly playing opening day. The best word he could come up with was “concerned.”

But the way Mackanin used the word “concerned” should not alarm fans. The skipper’s word choice did indicate, however, that the prized shortstop is not ready for the big leagues.

The magic year

I think fans are a little too impatient regarding the growth of Crawford. The former first round pick has raced through the system without much trouble. His worst stretch followed his latest promotion to triple-A, when he hit just .244. So, why shouldn’t fans worry?

There’s only one Bryce Harper. By that, I mean Harper only played one full season of minor league ball before making the jump. Obviously, that’s unheard of in today’s game. Mike Trout and Manny Machado only needed two full years before reaching the show. In that case, it’s unfair to gauge Crawford against those guys, as they stand in a category on their own.

Other players, specifically shortstops, that made impacts on playoff teams, include Corey Seager and Francisco Lindor. Seager, who is 22, needed three-and-a-half years before the Dodgers called him up. In his first full major league season last year, Seager was an all-star and won National League Rookie of the Year.

Same story with Lindor, who is also 22. He needed three-and-a-half years before he made his impact with the Indians. He was second in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2015 and was an all star last season. Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros is also 22-years old, and he was in the minors in parts of four years before winning that Rookie of the Year prize in 2015.

I bet you can guess Crawford’s age. That’s right, 22.

Realistic scenarios

Crawford turned 22 in January and played all of 2016 at 21. He was one of the youngest players in triple-A and more than five years younger than the average age of an International League player, per Matt Breen of Philly.com.

Unless it’s Bryce Harper, players develop at their own pace. Do we wish Crawford was a three-time all-star since age 19? Absolutely, but it didn’t happen. The best shortstops in the game today all needed years of fine tuning in the minors before their game was ready. Whether Crawford comes up at age 22 or 23 won’t impact the length of his career as a Phillie.

The best and a more realistic scenario for Crawford is if we see him in June or July. That gives him time work out the kinks. And if we don’t see him until September or next season, it isn’t the end of the world, either. If it takes him an extra few months or a year to be a 10-time (we can hope) all-star … so what? This discussion will be a thing of the past.

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