J.P. Crawford, the Phillies top draft choice in 2013, was mired in a .175 hole at the end of the May in his fourth full season as a professional. He was as advertised all the way through the system – a staple at the top of an order who gets on base and runs – until he reached triple-A. Though he was hitting .175, Crawford was getting on base at a .291 clip, which isn’t bad relative to his average. But still not good enough.
At that point, mostly everyone started to worry – and if you didn’t, you’re kidding yourself. But since May 26, Crawford was exactly the player as advertised, hitting .275/.380/.494 (triple-A numbers). If his season started then, he probably would’ve been called up much sooner.
Since his promotion to the big leagues, the 22-year-old has picked up right where he left off, slashing .261/.352/.391 in 14 games. He’s added four doubles, a triple and six RBI primarily batting in the bottom third of the lineup. And in the small sample size, Rhys Hoskins and Crawford rank one and two on the team in pitches per plate appearance at 4.55 and 4.46, respectively. And over the last four games, Crawford has stepped it up a notch, proving he’s comfortable at this level by seeing five pitches per plate appearance. He’s drawn five walks as a result.
It remains to be seen where the former first round pick will consistently hit in the lineup. Decisions need to be made on a cast of infielders: Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis. One thing we know for sure, Crawford is as smooth an infielder as anyone at any position.
J.P. Crawford, smooooooth as butter regardless of position pic.twitter.com/e51vvH8kUG
— Ben Harris (@byBenHarris) September 12, 2017
Maybe the finest defensive play we've seen J.P. Crawford make in the bigs? And he's made a bunch. pic.twitter.com/Q5IClfn9vM
— Ben Harris (@byBenHarris) September 19, 2017
Regardless of where Crawford hits, his type of approach does wonders anywhere in the lineup. If the Phillies decide to trade Hernandez, the infielder will likely slide into the top of the order, taking pitches so the rest of the lineup can time the pitcher. And once he gets on base, the meat of the order should get fastballs to hit. If the Phillies part ways with Galvis, then there’s a possibility Crawford hits seventh or eighth, and in case, he’ll be able to turn the lineup over more times than not for Hernandez and eventually Kingery.
Combine this offensive flexibility with the obvious defensive flexibility he’s showing, and Crawford is already close to proving himself worthy at the top level.