Dipoto: Future for J.P. Crawford, the value of Mariners making playoffs

Jan 13, 2023, 2:05 PM

Mariners JP Crawford...

J.P. Crawford of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo home run against the Houston Astros on October 11, 2022. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

There was plenty to discuss during the latest Jerry Dipoto Show on Seattle Sports 710 AM this week, and the Mariners president of baseball operations had plenty to say about his team moving forward.

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Someone the Mariners have committed to in a big way is shortstop J.P. Crawford, who received a contract extension last offseason.

Unfortunately for Crawford and the Mariners, 2022 wasn’t a great one for the 2020 Gold Glover, who saw his numbers take a hit from 2021 to 2022. His OPS dipped from .715 to .675, his WAR dropped from 3.8 to 2.8 and his defensive WAR went from 1.8 to 0.5.

So what does the future hold for Crawford? Dipoto had a lot to say on Thursday.

“If we get what we think J.P. delivers, which is steady defense — he has the ability to make this spectacular play and obviously, he’s got a Gold Glove on the shelf — last year wasn’t as good for him as as the two years prior, but all the skills remain the same,” he said.

While Crawford’s WAR dropped a full point from 2021 to 2022, Dipoto said being in the 2.5 to 3.2 range of WAR is still “a really valuable major league player.”

“And to go out and play steady defense, to deliver league-average offense primarily through on base skills and contact ability, which is something that that J.P. does very well,” he said.

“We don’t expect him to hit 20 homers, we don’t expect him to drive in 80 runs. J.P. is best when he is moving the lineup, when he’s getting on base and playing steady defense,” Dipoto added. “And when you do those things with a good pitching staff — which I think we have — with leadership skills — which I know we’ve seen from JP — it’s a really hard thing to go out there and replace.”

The leadership traits are something Dipoto stressed when talking about Crawford, who he calls an “above-average major league player.”

“And we value that in addition to what he brings in the clubhouse and the community and the traits that aren’t baseball-oriented,” Dipoto said. “So he delivers for us now, and he’s only now in what should be the prime of his career.”

Something Crawford and a number of other players achieved last year was making the playoffs. Not only did the Mariners end a two decades-long drought, but it was the first taste of postseason action for most of Seattle’s roster. And nearly every key contributor from last year’s postseason run is returning for 2023.

Just how valuable was that playoff experience for the Mariners?

“Oh, it’s huge,” Dipoto said. “… That experience for our young players and frankly for our veteran players, it was really invaluable in helping us grow forward, the confidence to know that A, we can get there and B, we can play with those teams when we’re on that stage.”

Young players such as Cal Raleigh, George Kirby and Logan Gilbert also became “impact guys” in the second half of the season, Dipoto said, which will help with confidence heading into 2023.

“I’m excited about what that confidence does to a group that is still going to line up as one of the younger teams in the American League with now, I think, additional firepower in our lineup and a more complete defensive club,” Dipoto said. “I think 1-26, we’re just better, and I know we’re more confident. It’s an exciting thing to watch young teams break out, and that’s what we saw last year.”

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