In trading Dee Gordon to the Miami Marlins, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost their leadoff hitter and baserunning threat. While the Dodgers have options in Carl Crawford, Jimmy Rollins and perhaps Yasiel Puig to replace Gordon atop the lineup, the same can’t necessarily be said for replacing his elite speed.
Of the players on the roster and expected to be regular starters in 2015, Crawford, Joc Pederson, Rollins and Puig represent the Dodgers’ speed threat. However, Rollins is 36 years old, Pederson hasn’t played enough to prove he can steal off Major League pitchers and catchers, and Puig has had his share of baserunning blunders.
That leaves Crawford as the club’s biggest threat on the basepaths — in theory at least — and it’s something he’s embracing, via Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
I was doing it last year,” he said. “I just got hurt. I was well on my way to steal over 30 bags last year. And now I feel better than I did last year. The running game has always been a part of my thing. I can’t shy away from it.”
At 33 years old (34 in August), Crawford believes he’s still in the upper echelon of players with speed:
I know I’m still faster than 70% of the league. It’s nothing for me to be concerned about.”
Last season, the Dodgers’ left fielder had nine stolen bases through 44 games before spraining his ankle on May 27; only getting caught twice. Crawford didn’t return until mid-July and proceeded to swiped 14 more bases and was caught stealing four times.
From 2003 through 2007 with the Tampa Bay Rays, Crawford led the Majors with at least 50 bases in four of five seasons. However, since joining the Boston Red Sox and subsequently the Dodgers, he’s had just 61 stolen bases over four injury-saddled seasons.
With Cactus League games beginning Wednesday, it shouldn’t be long before Crawford offers a glimpse at his self-proclaimed above-average speed.
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