MLB

Brandon Crawford Prepares to Start ’17 Season in National Spotlight

United States' Brandon Crawford, right, follows through on a single as Colombia catcher Jhonatan Solano watches during the sixth inning in a first-round game of the World Baseball Classic, Friday, March 10, 2017, in Miami. The U.S. won 3-2 in 10 innings. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The Bay Area knows how good Brandon Crawford is. Avid baseball fans, and those who are associated with and pay attention to the National League West, know how good Brandon Crawford is. But now, the world knows how good Brandon Crawford is, and his success in the World Baseball Classic could go down as a key thrusting point on the timeline of an already great player.

Spring training is long. Too long, quite possibly. The real focus is getting pitchers arm strength up to par—that 90 pitch mark, respectively. And so there goes this merciless journey of games that don’t count, where hitters will invariably go through ups and down. But throw in high level competition on an international stage and you may see some fireworks.

Crawford played in seven Cactus League games before he and Buster Posey joined up with the star-studded team USA. When he left he was batting .118 with a .250 on-base percentage. His offensive numbers after he scored the winning run and the U.S. claimed the title were .385/.429/.577. In a pool of players with more than 20 at-bats, he shared the highest batting average with Eric Hosmer (.385) and owned the most RBI (6).

“It was a lot of fun,” Crawford said, per Jose Romero of the Associated Press. “I probably would have told you that even before the thing started, because I figured it would be a lot of fun. Just to get to know some of the best players in the game and see how they are in the clubhouse, how they are as teammates, that part was a lot of fun. That we won made it even better.”

Granted the sample size is small and he had only 17 at-bats in spring training, compared to 26 with the WBC, it’s still worth noting. Now I don’t wish to advocate for a shorter spring training or enhance the draw for MLB stars to play in the WBC, rather simply acknowledge that, if Crawford has a career year, his WBC involvement could most certainly be categorized as a fundamental component. Or at the very least a headline on his Wikipedia page.

And displays of the defensive prowess were on full display, too, for the shortstop who is coming off two consecutive gold glove seasons.

Crawford rejoined Cactus League play on Friday against the Rockies as the Giants round out their Arizona stint and prepare to head back to AT&T Park for a Battle of the Bay series. If nothing more, it’s likely that his, and Posey’s, contributions to the U.S. being crowned WBC Champions will spur talk that could influence future player involvement.

“I’m guessing a lot of guys probably saw how much fun we had and how cool it was to be out there, and how much excitement surrounded this tournament this time,” Crawford said, per Romero. “I think it will get some guys going for the next WBC.”

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