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The conclusion of the Super Bowl (and another snowstorm) over the weekend has brought us to the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Well, Spring Training at least. Truck Day is Tuesday and Sports of Boston continues to take a look at the 2011 Red Sox lineup. Last week covered pitchers and this week focuses on possibly the most exciting outfield in baseball, starting with new left fielder Carl Crawford.
First things first; Crawford stole 8 bases against the Red Sox last season on his way to 47 thefts overall. Whether he leads off or bats a little lower in the order, that speed will help to transform the Red Sox from a slow team into an athletic, speedy, squad. But Crawford isn’t Juan Pierre – speed is not his only skill; the left fielder owns a career .296/.337/.444 career line.
While his career OBP isn’t necessarily the greatest, the last two seasons Crawford has gotten on base at a .364 and .356 clip. 2010 also saw Crawford post a career high .495 slugging percentage with 19 home runs, 30 doubles, and a league-leading 13 triples. Last year, he even added 90 RBI. While that can be a tricky stat to control, requiring teammates to get on base and then getting hits at those opportune moments, Crawford has come up with some big hits.
Courtesy of Fangraphs, the Crawford’s Bill James projection for 2011 is .300/.350/.453. While an .803 OPS isn’t the typical production for a left fielder, the Red Sox appreciate Crawford’s defense and should have better than average offensive production out of other spots in the lineup, like third base.
Teamed up with a rejuvenated Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox could put up gaudy steal numbers and maybe let other teams feel the wrath of the stolen base.