'He deserves it': Crawford for NL MVP?

August 18th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- has been subject to plenty of love from Giants fans over his 11-year career with his hometown team, but the adoration reached new heights in the seventh inning of Monday night’s 7-5 win over the Mets at Oracle Park.

After capping his 4-for-4 night with an RBI triple off the bricks in right field, Crawford heard “MVP! MVP!” chants break out among the 23,511 fans in attendance.

“It’s obviously nice to hear,” Crawford said. “It’s not something I’m ever thinking about while playing the game, but obviously, we have the best fans in baseball. To hear stuff like that is a nice feeling.”

Crawford entered Tuesday batting .306 with a .918 OPS and 19 home runs, two shy of matching the career high he set during his Silver Slugger campaign in 2015. His production is remarkable considering he hit only .228 with a .654 OPS and 11 homers over 147 games in 2019. But he proved that he has plenty left in the tank after working with Giants hitting coaches to make swing changes that helped spur the best season of his career at age 34.

Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. likely remains the frontrunner for the NL MVP Award despite missing time with a recurring shoulder injury, but Crawford -- and fellow 34-year-old Buster Posey -- are also likely to garner consideration after propelling the Giants to the best record in baseball this year.

“His offensive numbers are outstanding,” said Posey, who captured NL MVP honors in 2012. “His defense is probably still underrated. He’s a guy that’s really hit in a lot of different parts of the lineup. He’s been clutch. You can definitely see that being a possibility.”

Crawford and Posey are tied for the team lead with 4.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to FanGraphs, and Crawford also ranks sixth among NL qualifiers in batting average after hitting a scorching .427 since July 1. Crawford has paired his steady production with elite defense at shortstop, where he ranks in the top 10 in the Majors with 10 Outs Above Average this year.

“I think he’s definitely in the running,” right-hander Kevin Gausman said. “He’s in the conversation. What he’s done for the team at the position he plays, playing as much as he plays, facing lefties, facing righties. ... What he’s done this year has really been remarkable. I’m glad that he’s on our team, and that we get to watch it every night.”

Crawford’s resurgent season earned him his third All-Star nod and a two-year, $32 million extension from the Giants, but if he can sustain his performance, more recognition could be heading his way in the form of MVP votes.

“The guy’s been doing it all year long,” said new teammate Kris Bryant, another former NL MVP winner. “Those chants and that attention can’t happen to a better dude. I feel like I’m getting to know him and what he’s all about. Great family. He’s really proven a lot of people wrong. I just love stories like that. He works hard, he comes out here, he keeps the group light and happy. He’s a jokester, but at the same time, he’s out there working. It’s been really fun to watch him play. I certainly hope that he’s high in the MVP conversation because he deserves it.”