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Carl Crawford: Killing the Sox for 12 years

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  August 24, 2013 09:30 AM

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LOS ANGELES Here's are some statistics that will make you wince if you're a Red Sox fan:

Carl Crawford has hit .301/.332/.443 with 64 stolen bases, 12 home runs and 61 RBIs in 145 games against the Red Sox.

In 161 games for the Red Sox from 2011-12, Crawford hit .260/.292/.419 with 23 stolen bases, 14 home runs and 75 RBIs.

It gets worse. Crawford had UZRs of -3.6 and -1.6 in his two seasons playing left field for the Sox. He had a +17.9 in his final season with the Rays and has a +6.2 for the Dodgers this season.

He played to an 0.6 WAR in two seasons in Boston and has twice that (1.2) already in Los Angeles. His worst WAR in Tampa for a full season was 2.3.

Crawford was 2 for 3 on Friday with two stolen bases. It was only the second time all season the first time since April 6 that he stole two bases in a game.

Basically the guy is Tim Raines against the Sox and was the second coming of Darren Bragg when he played for them.

Is there a reason for all this? Injuries certainly played a major role. But the Red Sox also inaccurately projected how Crawford would mentally handle a market like Boston.

On the night he agreed to terms on that $142 million contract with the Sox, three people connected with the Rays (a player, a media person and a team official) texted to say that Boston would be a bad fit for Crawford. They later explained that he was sensitive to criticism and thrived because the Rays managed to protect him from the spotlight.

They were right. From literally the first day of spring training in 2011, Crawford seemed flustered by playing in a place where baseball mattered. He tried too hard to live up to his contract and never got comfortable.

That Terry Francona dropped him down in the order after only two games didn't help. Then the Red Sox hired Bobby Valentine, a guy who had ripped him on national television, to replace Francona. Crawford was used to managers who comforted him, not challenged him.

In Los Angeles, Crawford is a face in the crowd. Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp, Zack Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier and now Yasiel Puig get far more attention than he does. When Kemp was healthy, Crawford was going to platoon in left field.

Baseball also isn't covered in Los Angeles like it is in Boston. The Lakers and college football are more important here. Crawford can almost surely go to dinner most anywhere and not be recognized by half the place. If he slumps, it's not a topic of conversation on the radio or television.

Crawford is not a bad guy, he was just a bad fit. Based on the players they signed this season, the Red Sox learned that lesson. But what a price they paid for it.

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