Latest on J.P. Crawford, who has been vital to Mariners’ success

Aug 10, 2023, 10:10 AM | Updated: 10:16 am

Seattle Mariners J.P. Crawford...

J.P. Crawford of the Seattle Mariners gestures after hitting a double on Aug. 8, 2023. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners have had their share of struggles offensively this year before starting to turn things around over the last month, but J.P. Crawford has at least been a consistent force for the M’s lineup for most of the season.

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That makes a potential injury to the 28-year-old shortstop that much more concerning.

Crawford collided with third baseman Eugenio Suárez in Wednesday’s win over the Padres, taking a blow to the head as the two were each trying to make a play on a ball. He stayed on the ground for a while after time was called, and though he initially stayed in the game, he was eventually lifted in the later innings.

Mariners manager Scott Servais said after the game that Crawford was being evaluated for a concussion and that results wouldn’t be known until Thursday, which is a day off for the M’s.

“He just felt it wasn’t right,” Servais said Wednesday night about Crawford leaving the game. “Talking to our trainers an inning or two later, the best thing was to get him out of the game. We’ll check him out tonight. Tomorrow, we’ll see how he feels and see where it goes from there.”

Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto gave a similar update Thursday morning during his weekly show on Seattle Sports.

“We should know more today. He took a pretty good blow to the jaw, I think it was,” Dipoto told Brock and Salk. “Didn’t feel great, obviously removed from the game, was a little woozy postgame. We’ll find out today a little bit more once he checks in with the docs after he gets up and starts moving around. He has been a central driving force in the middle of our lineup and for our team the entirety of the season, really. Hopefully if he’s down, he’s not down for too long because he’s been incredibly important to us.”

J.P. Crawford has been vital to the M’s

The timing of a potential injury to Crawford would never be great, but it’s especially true now. He is having far and away his best career as a pro, slashing .266/.379/.41 (.790 OPS). He’s also slugged 10 home runs – already a career-high mark – and has really flourished as Seattle’s leadoff hitter.

ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Wednesday, and they spent a portion of the conversation raving about Crawford’s performance this year.

“I’ll tell you what J.P. Crawford is right now: J.P. Crawford right now is who he was supposed to be when he was coming to the big leagues,” Passan said.

Crawford was the 16th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, and he quickly rose through the minor leagues to make his MLB debut in 2017 at 22 years old. Crawford was regularly seen as a top-100 prospect, and at times even a top-five overall prospect in the game, but after two lackluster seasons in Philly where he played just 72 games, he was acquired by the Mariners ahead of 2019 to be a key piece in their rebuild.

Crawford became the Mariners’ everyday shortstop in 2019 and has shown flashes at the plate, but 2023 has easily been the best campaign he’s had as a Mariner, or as a pro in general.

“He’s a guy who plays you a solid enough shortstop – I don’t think he’s been quite the Gold Glove-type guy he was back in like 2021 – but the offensive side, it’s the on-base,” Passan said.

Currently, Crawford is 13th in MLB in on-base percentage, including third in the American League and first among all MLB shortstops. A big part of that is he ranks sixth in the game in walks with 68.

“It’s the fact that you have a guy who’s walking in almost 15% of his plate appearances and who’s got a career-high in home runs already and who you just know he’s gonna be there and be a pest (at the plate), right?” Passan said. “(And) he’s a good baserunner.”

“But when he was in the minor leagues, he was in Double-A at 20, 21 years old getting on base 40% of the time, and it’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness, this guy’s gonna be a leadoff hitter atop a big league lineup for the next decade.’ That’s exactly what he looked like,” Passan added. “And you look at him for – what’s he been with Mariners now, five years? The first four seasons when it came to getting on base, he just looked like he had settled into that 33-34% of the time, somewhere in there, and that’s what he is.”

But that’s certainly not the case anymore, and a big reason Wednesday’s development is cause for concern.

Listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

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