Is Brandon Crawford's bat for real?

Brandon Crawford has never hit much since the Giants drafted him out of UCLA in 2008. He hit .266 in the minors with 21 home runs in 265 games, and that includes a .335 mark in 44 games at Class A San Jose. He hit .204 in 66 games as a rookie in 2011 and then .248 with five home runs last year. Of course, you saw his outstanding defense on display in the postseason and that's why he was the starting shortstop for a World Series champion.

Brandon Crawford

Brandon Crawford

#35 SS
San Francisco Giants

2013 STATS

  • GM28
  • HR5

  • RBI15

  • R17

  • OBP.349

  • AVG.271

But now he's hitting -- and most surprisingly, hitting with power. His .271/.349/.521 line includes five home runs, five doubles and two triples, and Bruce Bochy moved him to the second spot in the lineup on Wednesday. That was as much because Marco Scutaro had the night off as Crawford's hot bat, but it still shows Bochy's confidence in his improvement.

I asked Giants fans on Twitter what they think of Crawford's improvement, but before I run some responses, a few notes about his season so far:

  • His walk and strikeout rate have both improved. In fact, his .288 BABIP is lower than last year's .307 mark.

  • His home runs are a bit of a fluke as 25 percent of the fly balls he's hit have left the park, a figure that would have ranked fourth in the majors last year -- alongside sluggers like Chris Davis, Pedro Alvarez and Curtis Granderson.

  • He's actually been hitting a lot of groundballs -- 8 percent more ofthen than last season.

  • He's hitting fewer infield pop-ups -- 14 last season, just one so far this year, perhaps a sign that some of his mechanical adjustments are working.

  • He's swinging at fewer pitches outside the zone (about 4 percent less) and making more contact within the zone (6.5 percent more).

Put all that together, and some of the improvement looks real to me. He's not going to hit 29 home runs, but the deeper stats suggest a hitter who has improved.

Some responses from Giants fans:

@WolfmanZack145: "he says he fixed a hitch. He's always had a decent approach, surprise power. Line drive kinda swing."

@SFBleacherGirl: "Supposedly changed his mechanics where he’s more upright and holds his hands higher. Also changed 2-strike approach"

@rewFer: "started hitting better in the second half last year. Carried over."

@BChad50: "I'll be the 1st to point out I'm no scout, but I've always thought he looked like someone that should hit better. And it wasn't any one thing. He seemed to show some patience, and the swing looked like it should result in hits."

@kjellthomas: "Rumor has it that Posey told him to chill out with 2 strikes and never worry about striking out. Just relax and hit the ball."