The Next Carl Crawford

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Carl Crawford this week. Yesterday, it led me back to Rickey Henderson. Today, we go the other direction, as I’ve been struck by just how shockingly similar one of the game’s best young outfielders is to the Rays star.

First, here’s Crawford’s 2010 season line:

.316/.376/.510, 8.5% BB%, 18.5% K%, .194 ISO, .368 BABIP, 10/4 SB/CS .386 wOBA

And now, here’s Andrew McCutchen’s 2010 season line:

.327/.382/.487, 7.6% BB%, 17.3% K%, .160 ISO, .371 BABIP, 12/4 SB/CS, .390 wOBA

Both McCutchen and Crawford are guys whose most obvious tool is speed, but then offer a surprising amount of punch at the plate. They hit the ball hard, utilizing their gap power to sprint around the bases and rack up doubles and triples. They’re not identical, of course, as Crawford is a lefty and McCutchen is a righty, and Crawford is three inches taller as well, but they are very similar ballplayers.

Despite all the problems the Pirates have faced this year, they still have to be thrilled with how quickly their center fielder has turned into one of the game’s best. He’s still just 23 years of age, but has now racked up essentially one full year’s worth of playing time in the big leagues (148 games, 664 plate appearances), and he’s been worth +4.5 wins over that time. That’s an all-star level performance, and he’s done it as a rookie. In fact, over the last calendar year, McCutchen has the highest wOBA (.377) of any center fielder in baseball.

It might be a little silly to go looking for the next Carl Crawford when the current one hasn’t even turned 30 yet, but McCutchen has staked his claim as being the next in line to Crawford’s throne, ruling the land of excitement with line drives and triples. Pittsburgh has a lot of fixing to do, but they have one rock solid piece in place; their center fielder is already in the discussion for best in the game at a very young age.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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13 years ago

Do you think he’s really a #3 hitter though? Ever since the lineup change, McCutch has only 2 SBs. I hope they return him back to leadoff or #2 slot like Crawford.