So, yeah, I sort of stole this idea from Chip’s article yesterday, but since Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury are similar hitters (in terms of speed, grounders and BB%), I wanted to take a look and see if we could expect another career high in homers from Crawford in 2011.
Carl Crawford set a career high with 19 home runs in 2011 and he hit 11 of those homers at home. Could that total have been higher had his home games been played at Fenway last season? Below is a hit chart from http://katron.org/projects/baseball/hit-location/ which shows Crawford’s 2010 Tropicana Field hits overlaid on Fenway Park (I excluded pop-outs, line-outs, ground-outs and singles).
According to the image, there would have been at least one fly-out that would have probably been a home run at Fenway. Another looks like it would have either been a home run or double off the top of the green monster. There also seems to be one double that could have left the yard over the 379 mark and another double (well, marked a double anyway) that seems like it would have been a home run anywhere (I’ll assume this is an error). It’s a little hard to distinguish the triples from home runs, but the blue spot by the 383 mark looks like a triple that would have entered the bullpens at Fenway. Most importantly, every home run would have indeed been a home run in Fenway — all 11 were to Crawford’s pull side.
Crawford doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a power hitter. Much like Ellsbury, but to a lesser extent, Crawford hits many more ground balls than fly balls. His fly ball rate last year (36 percent) was actually a career high, yet he didn’t see a spike in HR/FB rate, which is a good sign that he could maintain decent home run numbers going forward (10.6% HR/FB from 10.3% in 2009). As a matter of opinion (since I can’t really use fact here), Crawford might actually see a slight rise in his HR/FB rate with the move to Fenway Park.
Another factor working in Crawford’s favor is his three-year progression in SLG and ISO, which indicate that he’s not getting lucky, but getting better.
Year – SLG – ISO
2008 – .400 – .126
2009 – .452 – .147
2010 – .495 – .188
Entering the 2011 season at the age of 29, there is no reason to think that Carl Crawford has hit a plateau or should find himself on the downward slope of his career path. As long as he is comfortable in his new surroundings, he should continue to produce at a very high level.
Most projections call for a regression in home runs for Crawford in 2011 and that is the conservative way to look at it. However, the only factor that would keep Crawford from crossing the 20 home run mark in 2011 is Crawford himself.