J.P. Crawford isn’t one to be diplomatic or hide his feelings on a situation. So when he wasn’t named to the American League All-Star team Crawford wasn’t pleased. He believed he was having a first half worthy of being chosen.
The only representative from the Mariners for Tuesday’s All-Star game will be lefty Yusei Kikuchi.
“Oh definitely — I was hurt,” Crawford said before Tuesday’s series opener vs. the Yankees. “I still am. I thought I had a shot to be there. It’s a shame. I really wanted to represent Seattle. But I’m happy for Yusei, he has pitched really well. I’m really happy for him; he deserves it.”
Manager Scott Servais and several teammates expressed disappointment about Crawford being overlooked.
Boston’s Xander Bogaerts was selected by fans to be the starting shortstop. Carlos Correa of the Astros was chosen by the players for the roster while Toronto’s Bo Bichette was selected by MLB and manager Kevin Cash.
Based on FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement, Correa leads all AL shortstops with a 4.0, including a .298/.398/.529 slash line, 20 doubles, 16 homers and 52 RBI. Bogaerts has a 3.6 WAR with a .321/.385/.533 slash line, 25 doubles, 13 homers and 53 RBI. Bichette has a 2.6 WAR with a .290/.340/.479 slash line, 17 doubles, 15 homers, 54 RBIs, 68 runs scored and 12 stolen bases.
Crawford has a 1.9 WAR, which is tied with Tim Anderson of the White Sox, with a .289/.348/.406 slash line, 21 doubles, five homers, 42 RBI, 63 runs scored and three stolen bases.
Crawford doesn’t have the power of the other shortstops but also has nine defensive runs saved, which is the most in the AL. To truly appreciate him as a player, you have to watch him on a daily basis. The competitive intensity that he plays with every game, his consistency on defense and the way his teammates have followed his lead can’t really be seen by those determining the All-Star selections.
“I came up a little short,” he said. “It’s not going to affect me from playing the game here. I’ve got to lead my team every night. The rest is out the window. We’re here playing the Yankees and that’s what I’ve got to worry about tonight.”
But it will provide a little motivation moving forward. He wants to be recognized as one of the top shortstops in baseball and be a multiple time All-Star.
“I know I could compete with the best of them now so we just got to stay healthy, keep putting in the work on the field before the game, coming here with the same mindset, staying healthy and getting my body right for every game,” Crawford said.
He’s never going to be a power hitter like those other All-Star shortstops. He’s found his identity as a hitter — a slasher who will send line drives to the gaps, tally multiple-hit games, and not strike out at a high rate because of a competitive approach at the plate.
“I’m not that type of guy,” he said. “I’m not gonna go out there trying to hit home runs. I tried that and obviously I wasn’t a good hitter trying to do that. So I just step away from that and really realize what kind of hitter I am. I’m sticking to my approach and I’m not trying to be someone I’m not. And that was really the big thing for me.”
Crawford is a major reason the Mariners had a 45-40 record going into Tuesday and were 3½ games out of the second wild card spot. The team has taken on his competitive personality and the less-than-friendly edge he plays with.
“We are playing well every day now, and what people don’t understand is that we’ve had big injuries this whole year and we’ve always had people coming in and out and that can really affect the lineup,” he said.
And with the trade deadline looming, the idea of the lineup or roster being affected by trading Mitch Haniger, Kyle Seager or Kendall Graveman makes no sense to Crawford.
“I think that would hurt us bad,” he said. “It would be excruciating. It would suck. We need Mitch. Mitch is one of our leaders. Our outfielders look up to him the most. He’s one of our leaders on this team. With the stuff he does in games, the way he patrols right field and he crushes pitches, he’s an All-Star and we need him on our team.”
Crawford and Marco Gonzales were quite vocal about changing the mindset to winning instead of just improving.
If the Mariners are making trades in the next few weeks, he wants them to add to the roster.
“We’ve got a fire and we play with an edge,” Crawford said. “We play well together and everyone puts in the work. We’re really forming as a team right now. We are jelling. Everyone likes each other and we’re playing good baseball right now. I hope we just keep riding this wave out.”