Giants Review: Crawford's Season Takes Turn After Monster First Half

SAN FRANCISCO - When it was over, Brandon Crawford's season looked similar to previous ones. 

Crawford hit .254, finishing within six points of .250 -- one direction or the other -- for the sixth time in seven years. He hit 14 homers for a second consecutive season. His .719 OPS was six points higher than his career average. 

But Crawford got to those numbers in an unusual way. He had a rough start, then was the hottest hitter in the National League for about six weeks, and then struggled to produce down the stretch as he played through multiple injuries. Here are the highs and lows of a roller coaster season for the Giants shortstop … 

What Went Right: Crawford made a swing adjustment at the end of April, and in May it seemed there was no way to get him out. He hit .412 in the month, which led MLB, with a 1.064 OPS, 21 RBI, four homers and nine doubles. His .446 OBP was second in the Majors to only Mike Trout. The scorching streak actually extended into June. Crawford had four hits in a win on June 10, including three - one, a two-run homer - off Max Scherzer. 

Through that point, Crawford was batting .338 and was a legitimate MVP candidate in the National League. From May 1 through June 10, Crawford hit .439, the eighth-best stretch over 36 games in franchise history. 

Crawford was voted in as an All-Star for the first time and made the team for the second time. He once again was a standout defensively, and he's a finalist to win his fourth straight Gold Glove Award. 

The injuries put a dent in his numbers, but Crawford deserves credit for playing 151 games despite dealing with aches to just about every part of his body. A right knee injury was particularly bothersome, but didn't keep him out of the lineup much. He has played at least 143 games in each of his seven full seasons. 

What Went Wrong: Before the hot streak, there was a brutal start. Crawford had a .189/.237/.300 slash line through the end of April, and the second half was nearly as unkind. Without an ability to swing as he normally does, Crawford hit .151 in August and .217 in September. Overall, he had a .543 OPS after playing in the All-Star Game. It was .825 before the break, with 10 of his 14 homers. 

Crawford was worth 1.9 WAR, per FanGraphs, his lowest since 2012. He was worth six Defensive Runs Saved, his lowest total since 2013, and the knee injury put a dent in his other defensive metrics. Crawford has had a stranglehold on the Gold Glove Award in recent seasons, but it appears Nick Ahmed has a real shot at unseating him. 

Contract Status: Crawford will make $15 million on 2019 and each of the following two seasons. He has a full no-trade clause. 

The Future: This is an easy one, regardless of which direction the new front office goes. Crawford is still one of the best shortstops in the National League, and with a full no-trade clause, the lifelong Giants fan isn't going anywhere, even if the Giants trade veterans in a partial rebuild. The only question going forward is his health. Crawford manages his body as well as anyone, but he'll be 32 next spring, so it's possible that an injury-plagued second half was a preview of what's to come. Crawford and the Giants are optimistic that it wasn't. His right knee will not require surgery, and he'll be ready to go when pitchers and catchers report, and ready to jog out to shortstop on Opening Day.  

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