BROCK AND SALK

Jerry Dipoto: Seattle Mariners ‘flow through’ SS J.P. Crawford

May 25, 2023, 11:47 AM | Updated: 12:37 pm

Seattle Mariners J.P. Crawford...

J.P. Crawford of the Seattle Mariners attempts to turn a double play on May 24, 2023. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners have shuffled their lineup around in recent weeks, and the most notable change has been with the leadoff spot.

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Due to some early season struggles, Julio Rodríguez was moved down in the order from the leadoff spot, now spending most of his time hitting third for Seattle.

With Rodríguez moving down in the order, shortstop J.P. Crawford moved up to the leadoff spot after starting the year mostly hitting ninth.

Crawford is having a better season offensively than in 2022, slashing .250/.368/.353 (.720 OPS). His defense is also back to Gold Glove caliber as he has a 0.6 dWAR, per Baseball Reference. Through 49 games, Crawford is the Mariners’ third-most valuable player in WAR with 1.5, trailing Jarred Kelenic and George Kirby who both are at 1.7.

During this week’s Jerry Dipoto Show on Seattle Sports, the Mariners’ president of baseball operations heaped a ton of praise onto his shortstop.

“You’ve heard me ring this bell for every offseason interview really since J.P.’s arrival with the Mariners,” Dipoto said. “There are things that he does on a baseball field, there’s a consistency that he brings to the table – and some years it might result in a 2-win player in WAR value and some years it might be 3.5 – but he fields the grounders, he throws them to first base. He’s the guy you want them to hit the ball to when the game is on the line. He gives you a quality at-bat virtually every time he steps in the box. He has a knack for coming up with the big hit despite the fact that offense is maybe not his biggest calling card. And when you look up at the end of the year, he’s above-average (at getting) on base, he’s an above average feel-to-hit guy, he is one of the harder guys in the league to strike out.”

That knack for the big hit has been evidenced by having a 1.061 OPS with runners in scoring position and an even more ridiculous 1.776 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position.

“He tends to be very clutch for us,” Dipoto said. “And when you add all those things up, it’s not as easy as saying, ‘Boy, we should go sign ‘X’ free agent and just boot him’ because that is critical to good teams, and part of the vibe of our team.”

“The flow of our team flows through J.P.,” Dipoto later added, “and those are things that you just can’t get beyond. The value that he brings to us is beyond what you see in a stat sheet. You can hit him ninth, you can hit him first, you can hit him third and he just does the job. J.P. doesn’t stand out as the superstar that some of the guys were that were floating around the (free agent) market, but J.P. is a really good player in our league who makes a really good team go.”

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