Giants 7, Mariners 5: Brandon Crawford becoming complete player

BOX SCORE

In the offseason, the Giants said they would be willing to let Brandon Crawford be their starting shortstop if they upgraded their offense enough.

After adding Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, it didn’t appear the Giants had done that. Yet Crawford entered camp with the shortstop job his to lose, even with the addition of Ryan Theriot.

We all knew Crawford could pick it at shortstop. But after watching him hit .204 when he was rushed to the majors last season, we weren’t sure if his bat was ready.

But Crawford went to work on his swing in the offseason, making it more compact so he could get on pitches quicker. And the results have been evident this spring.

Crawford belted his first home run of the spring Thursday in the Giants win over the Mariners.

“He’s worked on shortening up his swing, and he’s getting results,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We know it’s Spring Training, but it’s nice to see him swing the bat.”

He is hitting .400 (14 for 20) with a .520 OBP this spring. And maybe most importantly, no strikeouts in 25 spring plate appearances.
After the Giants drafted Crawford after UCLA, they discovered they had a slick-fielding big shortstop with a big swing.

That big swing left big holes. Crawford had a 24.4 pct. strikeout rate in his first full year in the minors in 2009 (between Class A and AA). In 2010 (also A and AA), it was a 22.7 pct.

When he got called up last year, Crawford knew he needed to focus more on making contact, which he did. His strikeout rate was 14.1 pct in the majors. Unfortunately, the improved contact was often weak contact, result in the average around the Mendoza Line.

Now, he’s making contact, and it’s solid. The Giants have him penciled in for the No. 8 spot in the lineup. And they have Theriot on the lineup to play against tough lefties (Crawford’s average was as even more anemic .133 against lefties).

So expectations are low for Crawford. But he’s exceeding them right now.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

  • Another day, another Gregor Blanco highlight. Blanco opened the game with a single and went to second when the outfielder bobbled the ball. He advanced to third on a fly ball and scored on Brett Pill’s double. Then, as Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News put it, “went to San Francisco to find an apartment.” Possibly.
  • Another player doing his best to secure a San Francisco address is Brandon Belt. Belt went 3 for 5 with a run and RBI. He nearly missed a homer on his double off the wall in right. He’s hitting .375.
  • C Hector Sanchez went 1 for 2 and is now hitting .450. But his issues behind the plate remained evident. He allowed a runner to go from second to third on a passed ball, then allowed that runner to score on a wild pitch.
  • Barry Zito got threw four innings, throwing 62 pitches (38 for strikes). He gave up two runs on four hits, with two walks and four strikeouts. The two runs came when he walked Casper Wells on a 3-1 pitch, then gave up a home run to Mike Carp.

UP NEXT

Eric Surkamp will be on the mound and Buster Posey behind the plate as the Giants face the Cubs at 1:05 p.m. Friday.

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