Brandon Crawford

Brandon Crawford

SS - SF
Height: 6-2
Weight: 227 lbs
Age: 35
College: UCLA
San Francisco Giants

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The ScoreReasonable end-of-season reactions for every NL team

Let's be honest: Making wild prognostications based on small samples is just more fun. That's why we start every season with Opening Day overreactions.Now, though, every team has played at least 162 games, a new champion has been crowned, and we can fully develop our conclusions for Major League Baseball in 2022.We took on the American League on Tuesday.Today, we're breaking down one reaction for every National League club.Arizona Diamondbacks: Zac Gallen is the most underrated ace in baseball. He finished with the Senior Circuit's fourth-best ERA and fifth-best FIP. He also managed an unbelievable shutout streak of 44 1/3 innings - the seventh-longest in MLB history. Where would the D-Backs have been without him? Truthfully, they weren't in a great spot without him, but at least they were given a chance to win every fifth day. And that's important while star rookies like Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, and Geraldo Perdomo get shots with the big-league team.Atlanta Braves: The Astros might be the current dynasty, but are the Braves on their way to being the next one? They followed up their surprise 2021 championship campaign with an NL East title. They didn't make it deep into the postseason, but this team isn't going away any time soon. Losing Freddie Freeman last winter hurt, but replacing him with Matt Olson (who Atlanta immediately signed to an eight-year deal) is about as good as it gets. Austin Riley became an MVP candidate and agreed to a 10-year extension to stay with the Braves. But, most importantly, the first- and second-place finishers in NL Rookie of the Year will likely be Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II, in some order. Both are now under team control through at least 2029 following midseason extensions. The Braves have taken extending their homegrown players to a whole new level. While Dansby Swanson could walk this winter, that stability is crucial.Chicago Cubs: The championship team was already mostly disassembled, but now its last vestiges are also gone. Willson Contreras was the final piece after Chicago unceremoniously jettisoned off Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Anthony Rizzo, among others. So what's next? Seiya Suzuki produced a successful rookie campaign, but he isn't going to save the club single-handedly. Jed Hoyer and Co.'s work is just beginning, and the Cubs might not look as bad as they actually are because the lowly Pirates and Reds will make them look somewhat decent. But they aren't decent. They're bad.Cincinnati Reds: Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene might be legit. Greene had an up-and-down season, but when he was on, he was really on. Of his 24 starts, he struck out eight or more hitters in nine of them. The trouble came when Greene gave up homers. He could be an ace if he learns to better command his elite stuff - and that's part of growing as a young pitcher. Then there's Lodolo. He was a lot more polished upon arriving, but he also ran into some homer and walk issues. Great American Ball Park is a tough place for pitchers to hone their crafts. But if two pitchers can manage it, Lodolo and Greene have a good shot.Colorado Rockies: This team is a nightmare, but at least the second year of Kris Bryant's seven-year, $182-million contract can't go any worse than the first. In fact, when healthy, Bryant was pretty good. It was everything else that sucked. This is all that needs to be said about how dismal the Rockies were this year: Bryant was the team's only hitter to appear in at least 30 games with a 105 wRC+ or higher.Los Angeles Dodgers: Has the time come for the Dodgers to finally be the villains? Despite being the juggernaut of the league for a decade, L.A. somehow evaded getting labeled as the bad guys. But it's been too long now and whimpering to one championship over that span just isn't good enough. Even worse, the Dodgers won a franchise-record 111 games this year and then claimed just one playoff victory. Opposing teams were supposed to be intimidated by a rotation led by Julio Urias, who won the ERA title but had a mediocre 3.71 FIP, and Tony Gonsolin, a pitcher best known for his love of cats? And the lineup? Sure, it had Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and Trea Turner. But beyond that, Cody Bellinger was borderline unplayable, Chris Taylor really regressed, and Justin Turner wasn't especially intimidating. This isn't fun anymore. Sorry, folks.New York Mets: Even when the Mets find a way to avoid being the Mets, they'll still let you down somehow. As late as Sept. 23, New York had an 87.4% probability of winning the division. However, the club folded against the Braves down the stretch, forcing it into a wild-card series against the Padres, which it ultimately lost. The silver lining, of course, is that the Mets still won 101 games, tied for second-most in the NL in 2022. And deep-pocketed owner Steve Cohen will presumably stop at nothing to make sure Buck Showalter's squad is well-equipped to handle Atlanta next year.Miami Marlins: From afar, the Marlins seem to be going through multiple changes while figuring out what's next. First, Derek Jeter stepped away, and now Don Mattingly isn't returning as skipper. The new regime under Kim Ng is only finishing its third year, so some fluctuations are warranted. Besides, what matters most is the on-field product, and Sandy Alcantara is poised to become the first player in team history to win a Cy Young. Acquiring Jesus Luzardo also appears to be a great move, as he seemed to figure it out this year. Of course, on the flip side, the early returns on Avisail Garcia and Jorge Soler look pretty rough. It would be nice to give Miami's baseball fans some stability finally.Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers find themselves in a remarkably tough spot after trading away Josh Hader for an underwhelming package and missing the postseason. However, the real challenge is how Milwaukee will (or whether it even can) retain Corbin Burnes or Brandon Woodruff. The Brewers still have the co-aces on their staff for at least two more seasons if they keep both through their arbitration years. But if the team finds itself out of contention, will the front office shop Burnes or Woodruff the same way it did Hader? The Brewers have found a way to stay in the picture for a surprisingly long time, but are they headed for a reset?Philadelphia Phillies: Trust in Dave Dombrowski. So long as Dealin' Dave leads this front office, his resume dictates that a tear-down is off the table and investment into winning will continue. And his old penchant for forgetting to prioritize a bullpen has at least somewhat subsided; the Phillies had the fourth-best bullpen in the NL, according to FanGraphs. The defense was this team's real deficiency. However, it never really came back to bite them on the biggest stage, taking the juggernaut Houston Astros to six games in the World Series. The Mets and Braves will be tough to get around, but it's always nice to know that your team has Bryce Harper and Dombrowski.Pittsburgh Pirates: Oneil Cruz's debut yielded one of the best Baseball Savant charts possible. The young shortstop is an outlier in pretty much every way, starting with the fact that he's 6-foot-7. But it gets even better. His maximum exit velocity is in the 100th percentile. In other words, no one in MLB hits the ball harder than Cruz's max effort. Of course, that comes with some holes in his game, as he also sits in the first percentile in strikeout rate and fourth in whiff rate. He loves to swing and miss. On the defensive side, his arm strength is in the 97th percentile. However, he's in the third percentile in outs above average because he lacks range and reaction at the sport's most demanding position. It all worked in Year 1 for him. He posted a respectable 106 wRC+ and was worth 1.2 WAR. Will it all come together at some point, or is he too flawed?San Diego Padres: Is this Fernando Tatis Jr.'s team? You would've been ridiculed for even questioning that a year ago. But Tatis will return roughly 20 games into the 2023 season to a club led by NL MVP finalist Manny Machado and perennial MVP contender Juan Soto. It also doesn't help that president of baseball operations A.J. Preller said he wants to see more maturity from the club's superstar shortstop. Speaking of which, is Tatis even the shortstop when he comes back? Ha-Seong Kim filled in very well this past year and can't be bumped over to second base easily with Jake Cronenworth stationed there. San Diego has a lot to figure out, but they're mostly good problems to have now that the worst is behind it.San Francisco Giants: Everyone will fall over themselves to point to the 107-win season in 2021 as an aberration. And maybe it was a bit. But no more than going .500 this year. In all likelihood, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Brandon Crawford followed up a career-best year at age 34 with a truly abysmal campaign. LaMonte Wade Jr. went from key cog to platoon piece. Mike Yastrzemski had his worst season. Of course, things also changed with the Giants from year to year - they lost Buster Posey to retirement. But sometimes things break right, and sometimes they don't. San Francisco is an extreme example of that.St. Louis Cardinals: Who are the Cardinals without Yadier Molina? You could even add Adam Wainwright and Albert Pujols into that mix, even though the latter was away from the team for a substantial amount of time before returning for a remarkable bounce-back campaign. The fact is, no one can replace a franchise icon like Yadi, but someone is going to have to be the catcher for this team. Who that'll be is still up in the air. However, having veterans like Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado will certainly help insulate whoever it winds up being. It'll still be a hard transition for a young manager like Oliver Marmol.Washington Nationals: This team was so bad that Soto still led the position players in WAR despite finishing the season elsewhere. Oh, and second place was Josh Bell, who followed Soto to San Diego. And, to top it off, the starting pitcher who led their staff in WAR was Patrick Corbin. He posted one of the worst seasons ever with a 6.31 ERA over 152 2/3 innings. There's nothing left to say. I'm sorry you even had to read this blurb, Nats fans.Copyright © 2022 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Source: The Score
Wednesday, Nov 9, 2022


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