How Crawford stacks up against Sox left-field ghosts

December, 12, 2010
BOSTON -- Carl Crawford's wish, he said, is to become part of the long line of great Red Sox left fielders, one that includes three Hall of Famers -- Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice -- and will eventually add another, Manny Ramirez.

The seven-year, $142 million contract signed by Crawford will take him from age 29 through his 36th birthday. Here's how his illustrious predecessors performed over that same span.


-- Williams missed parts of three seasons, one due to injury, the other two because he was serving in Korea.

-- Yastrzemski by age 33 was playing less than half his games in the outfield, moving to first base and DH.

-- Rice's OPS dropped by more than 100 percentage points (from .874 to .766) by the time he was 34, and he retired after playing just 56 games at age 36 in 1989.

-- Ramirez turned 36 in 2008, the year he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. His spectacular two months in Dodger Blue that season left him with a line of .332/.430/.601/1.031, still second to the 1.200 OPS Williams posted at age 36.

--OPS+ adjusts a player's OPS to his ballpark

For Crawford to be in their company offensively, he will need to improve on his performance over his last seven seasons. He is by far the best defensively of the group, and has a component to his game, the stolen base, that was a nonfactor for the others.

ESPN researcher Mark Simon adds this observation. If a good statistical benchmark for Crawford over the next seven seasons is 250 steals and 100 home runs, consider this: The last player to do that over seven seasons was Marquis Grissom (1992-1998).

Simon's colleague, Jason McCallum, also notes that only two players in baseball history have had more seasons of a .450 slugging percentage and 45 stolen bases than Crawford: Ty Cobb (9) and Honus Wagner (7). Crawford comes into 2011 with six such seasons, tied with Rickey Henderson and Cesar Cedeno.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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