C C to the Rescue

  


Jeff Roberson / AP

You know it is funny. Carl Crawford has been involved in three All star games during his career and for some reason people have forgotten all about his last two All Star appearances. For some reason they forgot about his solo HR shot in 2007 at AT&T Park during the All Star game in San Francisco, and they certainly  have misplaced their minds about his first appearance back in 2002 when he got to play in front of his home town fans in Houston, Texas at Minute Maid Park. Maybe it was the simple fact he went 0-2 in that  first game that left him unnoticed by the rest of the baseball world. Maybe they thought he was a one shot deal and would then go back into oblivion in Tampa Bay.

How many people outside of the Tampa Bay area know that Crawford has seven years of major league experience. The way some of the people acted online last night on Twitter, it was if he had just crawled from under some rock and finally got noticed by the rest of the country. It took an amazing play in the seventh inning to rob Colorado Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe of a potential home run for everyone to open their eyes towards C C. You would have thought after the Rays run in the 2008 American League playoffs and during the World Series against the Phillies he would have made a recognizable name that would stand out to voters for the All Star game. But no, he was selected to this games as a reserve based on the player’s votes, not by the fans. And that is a horrible thought that we forgot Crawford on the Fan Vote.

And tell me that moment is not going to be a great attention grabber for people to look at his career. It is a bit of a shame that the players in your league (AL) have more respect and admiration for your abilities than the fans voting online or at the other 29 baseball parks. You almost wanted him for a moment to be cocky last night, but that is not his way. He just flashed that smile we have grown to love with the Rays and showed those dimples that have endeared him to us since 2002. He was truly humbled by the moment. He is truly one of those strong, silent types of guys, and it showed last night in the National telecast. But that also endears him to you. You have to admire and love the fact the guy first brought up his teammates on the AL squad before anything else. He is a total team player at heart.


Dillip Vishwanat / Getty Images

Crawford did show that part of his defensive game that people around the Rays have always known about, but has been brought into the light fully last night. He might have become a victim of his own  bursts of speed and easy glides to the ball in leftfield. He makes some plays look so routine that might handcuff other leftfielders in the league. And because he is unafraid to leave his feet to go either vertical or horizontal for the ball, people take that as a ho hum part of his game. But then again, I get to watch him 162 games a year and I am still thrilled with every catch he makes, even the easy ones. There is an art form to the way he plays leftfield for the Rays. He is very fluid in the the outfield, even towards the gaps.

And Crawford is the type of guy you want to win the Ted Williams All Star Game Most Valuable Player Award. He is so humble and thankful to just be playing the game of baseball that you cheer for him and want him to breed success.  And people outside of Tampa Bay  have not gotten to see him get better every season since 2002. Crawford has gotten improved every season in some form of his game. This might be the first season that the rest of the country has gotten to  really know his name, but here in Tampa Bay, we know if Crawford is on the base paths, it is “game on!”

And to think he began the 2009 All Star game on the bench and came on as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning and stroked a single in his first at bat. But it was not until the seventh inning that Crawford might have cemented his name into All Star lore with the likes of then Minnesota Twins outfielder Torii Hunter’s grab of a Barry Bonds line drive in the 2002 All Star Game. For the next generation, Crawford will be on the defensive highlight reels for the rest of the country to savor and wish he was in their outfield (Sorry everyone he has a team option of $11 million for 2010).

But what does America really know about this guy? What is it that makes him so special to baseball? If you have to ask yourself either of those questions, you have not been watching a whole lot of ESPN “Baseball Tonight” or “Sportscenter” baseball highlights the last 5 years.  Even in the early stages of the 2009 season, a huge segment of the country outside of the American League  have not even woken up to the potential of Crawford until he stole those six bases again the Boston Red Sox at home back on May 3,2009. But did you know that right now Crawford (44) and team mate B J Upton (31) have become only the second set of AL teammates to reach 30 steals by the All Star break.



 

And that is only the tip of the type of the offensive iceberg in Crawford’s arsenal. Up to now there have been only five AL players All Time who have had more steals than Crawford’s 44 steals right now before the All Star game. And some of those names are the best basestealers in MLB history. Names like Rickey Henderson (Oak), Ron LeFlores(Det), Vince Coleman (KC) , Mickey Rivers ( NY) and Kenny Lofton (Cle). All of them considered the elite in the art of stealing bases, and Crawford is the new name to be added to that awesome list. 

Crawford’s 44 steals so far in 2009 is better than the team totals of eight squads in the MLB right now. Carl is enroute to winning his fifth American League stolen base title in seven seasons. He also stole his 40th base of the season on June 28th against the Toronto Blue Jays in only the Rays 78th game. In the last 15 years, only three other players have reached that mark in less than 78 games. And by hitting the 40 steals plateau for the sixth time in his career, he trails only current Los Angeles Dodger Juan Pierre, who has hit the mark eight times in his career. So you might see a slight pattern here. Crawford is trying to re-write a few of the record books in reference to his knack for stealing bases.

But stealing bases is not his only claim to fame people. He is also currently third in the AL in hits with 109, which is also the fourth best mark in all of baseball. His 109 hits before the break missed the Rays club record by one hit, and he set that record (110 hits) in 2004. And he was not even an All Star that season for the Rays. Crawford has 35 multi-hit games this season to give him the third best mark in the AL. He is in the top ten in AL hitting and is currently ninth in the AL with 58 runs scored prior to the All Star break.  This set of statistics also puts him in a special class as one of four AL players All Time to have 40 steals and 100 hits  before the All Star break joining again, Henderson, Lofton and LeFlore.

And if all of that is not impressive to you, take the fact he is tied with Toronto’s Adam Lind for the top spot in the MLB by getting a hit with two strikes on him 47 times this season. Crawford played in his 1,000th game earlier this season as a Ray and his totals of 341 stolen bases and 87 triples have not been topped since Ty Cobb played baseball. And if that is not impressive enough for you, since 1900, Crawford is only the seventh player to reach 1,000 hits and 300 steals before he turned 27.

This guy is magic on the field, with his glove or on the base paths. He is the type of guy you build a team around. But because he is not a flashy or even a mildly controversial player, he might fall through the cracks and not get the publicity. While Crawford might have missed out on the free publicity, he has been working his tail off every day for the Rays and finally got to taste the fruits of hard work and determination in 2008 when the Rays shocked the baseball world by making it all the way to the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. And Crawford stayed in the background during that playoff run accumulating a .295 playoff average while the Rays soared towards the World Series.

The best praise of the continued improvement of Crawford might have come from his own Al All Star/Rays Manager Joe Maddon after the All Star Game last night. Maddon told Fox Sports last night, “I’ve been talking to everybody all year about this. Carl, he has become a better baseball player since I first met him in 2006. He’s a better defender, a better thrower, a better baserunner, a better base stealer, and it’s all because of his work,” he added. “It’s because of him. His work ethic is that good.” 

After a glowing endorsement like that I guess all I can say now is that last night’s heroics might have also begun a timid and long trail towards the Baseball Hall of Fame for Crawford. He doesn’t have the numbers yet, but they are going skyward every game and will only get better. The country saw a Tampa Bay Rays pull a certain Home Run ball from beyond the wall to give the American League home field advantage in the 2009 World Series. No matter who gets there from the AL, they have CC to thank for the home field advantage.

Maybe the rest of the country will now pay attention to the guy we thought deserved a Gold Glove for his work in leftfield. Crawford has put up amazing numbers offensively for the Rays in his seven year tenure with the team. But little do people know that he also has 78 home runs and 473 RBI to go along with his steal totals. He might be the least known of the guy who have the total package in the major leagues. But because he the product of a small market team, he did not get great exposure outside of his broadcast region until the Rays hit the playoffs in 2008.

But winning breeds that type of exposure, and with that extra viewing to the rest of the country got to see the hidden gem in Crawford. Little has been written or even mentioned about his career Fielding Percentage of .991. The guy has made only 21 errors on a total of 2295 total chances in his career. Funny, in the 2008 Rawlings Gold Glove award, two of the three winners play centerfield (Torii Hunter, Grady Sizemore) and the other rightfield (Ichiro Suzuki). No one in the AL got the nod in leftfield. Hopefully in 2009 Crawford can also make a few strides in also pulling in a Gold Glove of his own. The catch in the All Star game might get him some extra consideration in 2009.

I might be biased since I have gotten to watch Crawford mature and take control of his game. He has grown into the kind of player who can change a game just by being on base. Crawford has transformed his game into making a simple walk an almost automatic double and put pressure on A L pitching staffs. Even with teams beginning to anticipate his moves, he is still getting adequate jumps and good base stealing opportunities this season.

He is the type of player who can make a hard play seem easy, and most of all he is the first guy to be there to give props if you do something amazing. His clubhouse presence and leadership have blossomed, just like his exposure to the rest of the country this season thanks to last night’s amazing catch. Maybe now the rest of America will remember his name and vote him into the All Star game in 2010 on the Fan’s vote, where he should be for years to come….count on it!

22 Comments

Now the world knows who C.C. is! The secret is out. Well not really – he’s been around for awhile, but I guess no one noticed before. That was a spectacular catch and a great game to watch.

Still smakes me smile when I see all the guys in the dugout playing around and laughing. That’s the best part of the ASG to me – friends. Hope our guys had a blast – including those in the stands – and made lots of memories! I think it would’ve been funny to see our whole infield out there at one time – even just for one out.

Let’s see what a couple of days of rest can do to regroup them, and get ready for Friday night.
Ginny
http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

Didn’t the whole world already know the greatness that is Carl Crawford? Maybe because the Yankees are in the AL East it was clear to me from years back. He was the star of the then Devil Rays, so it’s no surprise to see him as the AL MVP. He deserved it. That catch was phenomenal!!!!!

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Ginny,
All but Longo are going to show up in Kansas City tomorrow for a impromptu workout before they begin their second hafl on Friday night.
Longo will be at the ESPN ESPY Awards show and will not be there for the workout.
CC has been a hidden commodity to everyone but AL teams until last night.
I hoped he would get more exposure after that HR in San Francisco, but it did not come.
Now he can just add onto his stats and build a walkway to the Hall (hopefully).

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Jane,
I think the American League has known his antics since 2002.
But his snub in the All Star game last season just goes to show people forget you sometimes.
Hopefully he will not have another 5-year absence from the game after last night.
3 All Star picks, and two of those was as the team lone rep.
People know his name, but he was picked as a reserve this season by the players, not the fans.
Hopefully that will change now. Games like this make careers more visible.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Crawford is the man. That catch was sick, even though I was pretty mad about it because it did the NL in. Him and Upton are two of my favorite players in the league and I’m glad he won the MVP.

http://eatsleepmlb.mlblogs.com

Eat,sleep,
I consider those two guys to be the most disruptive pair in baseball right now.
When they are on the base paths together you can almost feel the double steal coming.
They also compliment each other so well as teammates and hitters.
Both will do whatever is needed for the Rays to win.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

CC did a great job last night and the AL win was truly because of him. But I’d also like to say thank you to Carlos Pena for being such a class act; his words and actions made him a very worthy person to replace Dustin Pedroia in the ASG. RSN is very grateful.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Julia,
that is one of the reason I was glad Carlos Pena got a chance to go to the All Star Game.
He really is such a class act, and he is such a team-oriented guy.
He does the most amazing dance after a huge win.
I hope to get a video of it someday so everyone can see how much fun this team has on a daily basis.
He is the ringleader of this Rays posse, and is ruling with a hand on your shoulder, not your neck.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

CC definetely deserved the MVP Award. It was hard to say who deserved it more between him and Curtis Granderson, but they made a good pick. http://tribechick.mlblogs.com/

Good looks on that catch last night. Thought as he made it: “Shades of Endy Chavez, 2006 NLCS.” Shame on Tim McCarver for suggesting that ball wasn’t on its way out.

Thought of a fun task, by the way. Rank the following C.C.s, in order from Most-Awesome to Least:

–C.C. Sabathia
–50 CCs of adrenaline
–Carl Crawford
–Cindy Crawford
–Cab Calloway

Feel free to add additional C.C.s you can think of.

Section five Twenty-Eight

Phenomenal grab. Kudos to C.C. Tried to get down to Ramos in the pen but they kept shooing me away cuz I wasn’t a little kid with a ball and pen I guess (or maybe the ‘stache scared them???).
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

That was a hell of a catch. I was still disappointed that Hawpe didn’t get that homer. I mean, the AL could’ve won still, but I really wanted that Hawpe homer for his first All Star game. Carl Crawford is clearly an asset to the Rays.
Emily
http://deconstructingthoughts.mlblogs.com/

It really is a shame that amazing talents like Carl Crawford go unnoticed by the casual fan. I think Joe Nathan and until recently Roy Halladay were much of the same. The market a player is in unfortunately has so much impact on the exposure they get.
http://moneyball.mlblogs.com/

Indiansluv,
I had Granderson as a choice, Jeter with his two runs scored, and Mauer with a run and a RBI were people I considered before I voted online for Crawford.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Section528,

You might be too young, but Carol Channing 50 CC of chuckles, Chris Cornell 50 ccs of ballards, and I can go on and on.
Great idea to think of cc’s

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Jeff,
They might have been afraid that was a fake moustache and it would scare Brian Fuentes.
The Crawford catch did have Cursi in the background to the right, and Ramos running from the ball.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Emily,

Hawpe could have been the hero for the National League if Crawford did not get to that ball.
So it was a matter of 6 inches to change the fortunes of both teams.
But that was a awesome catch to go along with that hard hit monster shot off of Papelbon.
That is the part of history that might get lost. It was a matter of inches to change the fortunes of the National League.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Moneyball,

I love the fact the Rays had their best season last year. It got people to notice some of the best young players in the game like B J Upton, Evan Longoria and Crawford.
Crawford will go down in Rays history as their first farm system born superstar.
But that is the price of having a small market team. You hope the player will value his commitment to the team and not follow the money trail.
We will see what the Rays intend for Crawford by the Trade Deadline at the end of August. If not, they still hold a $ 11 million 2010 option on him before he gets near free agency.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Last year for the Rays was so memorable, and noone saw it coming at all! It must be great to be a Rays fan. They just burst last year with all of that young talent. THe O’s are looking like the 07 Rays, ready to burst out soon! :)
http://balorioles.mlblogs.com/

BalOrioles,

Actually, a lot of us home town fans saw it coming on the horizon, butit hit a year ahead of our thoughts and predictions.
I know I was pining for 2009 knowing the system was in place, but the Rays had a great offense last year and the defnese clicked faster than expected.
Not complaining, either way it would have sent shockwaves into the Northeast part of the country.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Thanks for your input Renegade, I gotta ask you something though, do you think the O’s will crash and burn or blossom? I think that the O’s will win 90 games in 2011 because Tillman will be a major league pitcher, Bergesen will be a Cy young winner, and Adam Jones will be the Baltimore Orioles. Also how do you get videos on your blog? I am not sure how to do it. Please explain to me step by step. Thanks so much Renegade.
Best Regards, http://balorioles.mlblogs.com/

BaltiO,
I will answer your first quetion here, and I will send you an email today or tomorrow telling you how I add videos.
The O’s have agreat nucleus of young talent right now. I truly see them gearing up for a run in the next two years.
I love Adam Jones, and still consider that trade for him with Seattle a key to their future.
The pitching has to get better top to bottom, but the catching is in good hands.
J\They just need to stay within their talents and play like a team and they will contend soon.
Boston and NY, and even the Rays and Jays will go back and forth for the next 10 years before someone takes a dominating role again in the division.
Boston is showing their might right now, but we still have 74 or so game to show who is the boss.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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