Brandon Crawford reacts to the signing of Carlos Correa, and comes to terms with the change of position

Brandon Crawford He played in 1,525 games in his major league career. He has stood in the field for 12,872 innings. He’s come on balls off his feet for hundreds of thousands of deliveries to the plate, and is ready to rush, dunk, charge, or run into any form of hitting ball.

In each of these moments, he fell short.

You don’t become a four-time Gold Glove in sports alone. Intuition and positioning before the pitch can be just as important. The best short stops showcase the artistry of making plays. Crawford has applied many of these gifts to become the greatest stopping point of all giants Date.

If one of Crawford’s gifts stands out above all others, it is his spatial awareness. It is an innate ability to visualize the movements required to make a play. It is the coordination to carry out those movements.

It is the understanding of where his body is in space in relation to other things or people.

And now one of those people Carlos Correa.

Less than 15 minutes after news broke on Tuesday night that the Giants and Korea Republic were in agreement on a $350 million, 13-year contract, Crawford received a phone call from club president Farhan Zaidi and manager Gabe Kapler. They told Crawford what he had already discovered: that Korea would be the Giants’ daily stopping point. It would be up to Crawford to accept a job change for the first time in his career.

Until that phone call, there had been no discussion between Crawford and anyone in the Giants’ front office or coaching staff about the possibility of playing another position.

Crawford took two days to process his situation before reaching out the athlete to comment.

“By signing a player like Carlos, our team is definitely a lot better,” Crawford said via text message. “He’s been one of the best players in the league for years, and it’s obviously exciting to get a player of his caliber down to San Francisco. That said, he’s quick to stop, and since signing the other day, I’ve been told he’s staying in, and that puts me in a position.” Much different than what you’ve encountered in professional baseball.

“So, the rest of this season, spring training, and through the season, I’m going to work really hard to be the best I can be to be in a different position and help us get back into the postseason.”

It’s a transition Crawford admits he’s making reluctantly. Shortstops always see themselves as short stops. Position players always see themselves as midfielders. Moving to a less stressful situation can be more than just an assault on their pride. It could be an insult to their identity.

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For Crawford, who debuted in 2011 and started at shortstop on Opening Day in 11 consecutive seasons, it’s a matter of sheer pride that only five players in major league history have played more games exclusively defensively as a shortstop. You’ve heard of them: Derek Jeter (2,674), Luis Aparicio (2,581), Ozzie Smith (2,511), Elvis Andrews (1906) and J.G. Hardy (1544).

Crawford, who turns 36 in January, had hoped to stay on that list until the end of his career, which could coincide with his contract expiring after next season. Instead, he’ll come to terms with having one less claim to a career that still contains a ridiculous amount of really cool stuff. He became the first major league player in 41 years to collect seven hits in one game. He shares the single-game RBI record (8) with Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, and Jock Pedersen. His first major league hit was a grand slam. He’s hit other majors to win a National League wild card and has made a noisy Pittsburgh ballpark so silent you can hear the Allegheny waters hitting the bridge’s towers. He grew up in Pleasanton with dreams of becoming the shortstop for the San Francisco Giants, and for twelve years, that was exactly what it was. And, of course, he was an integral part in winning two world championships.

None of that legacy is diminished simply because he would start taking the floor at third base, second base, or wherever he might stand for Korea on the field. Crawford still fit the Giants’ roster. Crawford declined to say what role it could be or what position represents the easiest transition, saying he’s been given a rough outline but talks are still in the early stages. Kappler also declined to comment until Correa’s signing is official, at a press conference on Tuesday.

But it’s easy to see potential areas. Crawford can be a left-handed complement at third base for JD DavisAnd the Wilmer Flores or David Villar. He could do the same thing at second base along with Cerro Estrada. He can address what has become an urgent need for a versatile left-handed hitting player, especially now Tommy La StellaIt would be impossible to hide the defensive limitations with the campaign on protection spells.

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And while Correa is expected to play exclusively at short notice (hitting 881 games and 7,666 2/3 innings without appearing in another position, by the way), he’ll need the occasional day off. For more than a decade, the Giants never had a backup shortstop behind Crawford. Now they have the best reserve point in the major leagues.

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But nothing is guaranteed. If Crawford is producing anywhere near as much as he did in 2021, when he posted 141 OPS+ and finished fourth in NL MVP balloting, he’ll be in the lineup near every day — presumably starting with the opener at Yankee Stadium when his brother was — Law, Gerrit Cole, expected to be on the hill for new york. However, if Crawford scribbles like he did last season, when he fell to 85 OPS+ and a nagging knee injury dented his defensive metrics, the Giants would be under no obligation to provide him with a satisfactory score.

Crawford’s knee improved in the second half of last season after a short stint on the injured list, and the difference was noticeable on the field. On the Giants’ second-to-last road trip to Arizona and Colorado, Crawford collected Non-stop highlighting roller From diving plays, off-balance throws, great reflexes and sprint catches.

“I mean, I always think of myself as a shortstop throughout my career,” Crawford said at the time. “So there’s a little bit of pride in that, I guess. I got called up a rookie year, because I could come up and play defense in the big leagues right away. That’s valuable, even if it’s not always seen that way.”

Even if Crawford hadn’t backed down last season, he may have found himself in the same circumstances as he is today. Other shortstops in the free agent market this winter may be more willing to play another short-term position, but Correa represented the Giants’ best match due to his relative youth, offensive qualities, and leadership qualities. When Aaron Judge He rejected the Giants’ $350 million offer to return to the Giants YankeesIt was clear where the organization would pivot. They needed a superstar franchise and there was only one player left who met the criteria.

Crawford was among the people on the field in front of Judge. Judge met at the Gotham club at Oracle Park and did his best to sell the city and organization to the best player in the American League. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Crawford was not included or consulted when the organization shifted its focus to Korea. All Crawford had to go on was what he was Zaidi told reporters At GM meetings in Las Vegas last month, when asked if he thought Crawford would be the club’s Opening Day stopping point.

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“Yeah, sure. Now. Yeah. Brandon Crawford is obviously the best shortstop in franchise history. He’s done a really great job for us over the last few years and last year, especially in the second half when he played really well in Defense “.

But al-Zaidi added a refinement: “I don’t think anything will constrain us from going after men who have traditionally stopped working.”

Corea’s identity as a short-stance static like Crawford’s. He has accumulated 70 defensive points saved during his career. He won the Platinum Glove MLS Defensive Player of the Year in 2021. And he is Certain Like any defender in the game. Metrics ranks him as the most efficient in the major leagues at logging out when he dives for a ball. It’s a throwback player and the epitome of a modern major leaguer who not only embraces analytics, but He gladly explains to his colleagues Why should they embrace them too.

But his time will also come – just as it did for Cal Ripken and Dave Concepcion and as it is coming for Crawford now. Correa will be Crawford’s age in eight years. By then, it will be up to whoever runs the Giants in 2031 to see where Correa plays out. He will only have five years and $135 million left on his contract.

The Giants view Correa as a cornerstone of the franchise and an impact player whose forward contributions will far outweigh what he will have in his declining years. But it would be hard to imagine him ending his Giants career as the greatest shortstop in franchise history. The bar is set pretty high.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to watch what happens next season the first time there’s a left-handed ground ball and a couple of sloppy putts slide to shrink every last inch of the 5.5-hole hole. Great players always enjoy playing alongside great players, even if they can’t share the exact same space. So Crawford will look on the bright side as much as an ex-cop can.

Maybe, he said, appending his text with a shrugging emoji, “I can finally get a run in the mound.”

(Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

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