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Crawford runs, but also happy to walk

No, he's never going to be Rickey Henderson. But as Roger Mooney writes, Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford really is trying:

    Crawford sat on the couch of his offseason home in Phoenix a few weeks after the World Series and watched a DVD of his 2008 at-bats. He wanted to know why his average dipped. There were injuries, sure. But there had to be something more.
    "My season last year made be cringe,” Crawford said. "I looked at the numbers at the end of the year. You know that sick feeling you get when you get bad news? I had that feeling.”

    Now, he had his answer.

    "I had terrible at-bats,” he said. "I was looking sloppy. Maybe 60 percent of the time the balls I swing at were strikes, and some at-bats they didn't even throw me a strike.”

    Now that Crawford had his answer, what would he do?

    "Be more patient,” he said.

    He has. Crawford's next walk will be his 38th. He's not threatening any records, though it will represent a career high for the eight-year veteran, who is known more for his speed and occasional power than his ability to be selective at the plate.

    --snip--

    The results have allowed him to keep his average well above .300 and allowed him to get on base for the Rays' No. 3 hitter, Evan Longoria.

    It's a development Crawford wants to make a permanent part of his game.

    "I hope so,” he said. "I don't want to go backwards. I went backwards last year, and look where that got me.”

You must know that talk like this makes my heart go pitty-pat and real fast. And by most standards, Crawford is heading for the best season of his career. Which is perfectly natural, given that he just turned 28. Last season was something of a fluke. What's more normal is that Crawford's best season is coming this year, when he's turning 28, and two years ago when he turned 26. What's more, players typically draw more walks as they age.
Essentially, Crawford's performance this season is a happy combination of desire (Crawford's) and nature (everyone's). Also, he's really fast. All of which makes him one of the five or six best players in the American League this season. Which is better than I ever thought he would be.