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Crawford having an all-around career year

Giants shortstop's offensive numbers surging, defense consistent
MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- When Brandon Crawford launched a 1-1 slider into the crisp San Francisco air Wednesday night to send the Giants home with a 1-0 win, manager Bruce Bochy was excited. But he wasn't surprised.

"He's always been such a great clutch hitter," Bochy said. "Even when the numbers weren't way up there, it just seemed like he always came through with the big hit for us."

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SAN FRANCISCO -- When Brandon Crawford launched a 1-1 slider into the crisp San Francisco air Wednesday night to send the Giants home with a 1-0 win, manager Bruce Bochy was excited. But he wasn't surprised.

"He's always been such a great clutch hitter," Bochy said. "Even when the numbers weren't way up there, it just seemed like he always came through with the big hit for us."

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Crawford, often praised for his defense, has won three consecutive Gold Glove Awards at shortstop. But even with a Silver Slugger Award to his name, in 2015, he hasn't always seen consistent power.

Until 2018.

A career .257 hitter, Crawford has slashed .319/.375/.507 so far this year. At the midpoint of the season, his 3.0 WAR is already higher than his 2.1 mark from 2017. He's in line to start next month's Mastercard All-Star Game and has become an indelible part of the Giants' lineup as they continue to surge in late June.

"He went through a lot last year," Bochy said. "He knows he's one of the leaders of this club, and I think he's assumed that role. He's our shortstop. He's the leader of the infield. He's hitting in the heart of the order, and he has stepped up and handled that well."

"He's definitely stepped it up a level for sure," Wednesday's starter, Madison Bumgarner, added. "His defense has always been there and been a step above almost everybody else. And now, it's nice to see his offense is in the same category now."

Crawford has paced the Giants in average, hits (86), RBIs (36) and total bases (137) this season. His play in the field, however, has not wavered. Crawford leads the Majors in double plays turned at shortstop (57) and currently has the highest fielding percentage of his career (.985).

Wednesday evening's home run, Crawford's ninth of the season, was the third walk-off homer of his career.

"Anytime you can get a walk-off, whether it's a homer or a base hit, you're excited," Crawford said. "You're excited to get around the bases and get to the guys at home. Those are the reasons we play baseball. Those are the real fun parts."

A playoff push is fun as well. Now three games above .500 and in undeniable contention in a wide-open National League West, the Giants will rely on their surging shortstop's bat to get them back to the postseason after a one-year hiatus.

"It's been fun to watch his growth as a hitter since he came up years ago," Bochy said. "He's gotten better and better."

Managing the bullpen
Reliever Mark Melancon and closer Sam Dyson were both unavailable on Wednesday after being used the previous day.

"We're trying to keep an eye on these guys to keep them fresh in August and September," Bochy said.

Martin Oppegaard is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

San Francisco Giants, Brandon Crawford