When Brandon Crawford takes the field in Texas on Tuesday, it will mark his 1,326th game as shortstop of the Giants, a gig that he has wanted and dreamed about since he was a kid growing up in Pleasanton. He is as Bay Area as they come.
And now, officially, as Giants as they come. No shortstop in club history has lasted longer.
He is batting fifth in the lineup and at shortstop for the game against the Rangers, which will break a tie with Travis Jackson for most games played at the position all time for the Giants.
“It’s a remarkable accomplishment and one that we’re actively looking to celebrate in our clubhouse,” Gabe Kapler said before the start of the two-game set at Globe Life Field. “I think it speaks to his preparation, and I think it speaks to his training in the offseason and his desire and willingness to post every single day. That’s been my experience with Brandon since I’ve been here, is that he wants every big opportunity, never wants to come out of games and wants to be in the lineup as much as his body will allow.”
His body has held up, but his game has ticked up. He is 34 years old and in the final year of a contract that, many viewed, would free up the Giants’ payroll and shortstop position so they could throw a few hundred million dollars at a Carlos Correa or Trevor Story. Instead, Crawford is playing the best shortstop by anyone not named Fernando Tatis Jr.
With a few swing tweaks he debuted last season, he has not just played better, but played better than he ever has before. His .888 OPS, with which he entered play Tuesday, would easily be the highest of a career that includes two All-Star Games and now should include a third. He has 12 home runs in 51 games; he had 11 in 147 games in 2019.
Defensively, he has been as good as he ever has been and steadied what may be have been the strongest defensive team in baseball in the first two-plus months of the season.
“He’s moving great. He’s strong,” Buster Posey, who has seen Crawford play a time or two, said this weekend. “…Watching him in the box, too, he’s just seems like he’s moving really fast and in a great position to hit.”
This was supposed to be the swan song of both, as well as Brandon Belt, as the Farhan Zaidi regime moves further from his predecessors. It was appropriate that Tuesday marked Belt’s return from the injured list; all three would be on the field for Crawford to be immortalized in the franchise’s 138th year. No one in history has shown up to work as Giants shortstop more than Crawford.
Travis Jackson, by the way? Born in 1903. He played in the 1920s and ’30s with the New York Giants and is a Hall of Famer. It’s nice company.
“Craw, like a lot of us, is not going out there perfect every night. I think everybody that’s around the game a lot knows that physically, you’re never going to be perfect,” Posey said. “But he’s such a grinder and takes care of himself the best he can, before and after games. And it shows up with how much he’s on the field and the type of plays he continually makes.”
In doing so, he has inspired a lot more confidence that he will not just break the record for games played at short, which he will shortly, but shatter it.