Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Comparing Carl Crawford to Shannon Stewart

While looking for a player this morning, the name Shannon Stewart, came into focus. Shannon Stewart? Remember him? Stewart was a good young player for the Toronto Blue Jays who, after playing five full seasons with that team, was traded to the Twins in 2003. His contribution to the Twins that season helped Minnesota to the playoffs. Stewart then had injury trouble to his feet and missed some chunks of time for the Twins. He had one last hurrah for the Oakland A's in 2007 and then sunk out of site with a poor 2008 and is now out of baseball. The question that immediately popped into the Fan's head when seeing Stewart's name was: "Wasn't he sort of the Carl Crawford of his day?"

The comparison makes sense in a lot of ways and also parts company in other ways. Let's look at both sides starting with the similar. Their offensive stats are startlingly similar. Stewart's career slash line: .297/.360/.430. Carl Crawford's career slash line: .296/.337/.444. Stewart had a career OPS+ of 105. Crawford sits at 107. Crawford has a little more pop in his bat but Stewart was better at getting on base.

The two were similar in that early in his career, Stewart was a prolific base runner. In Stewart's first full season, he stole 51 bases. But again, foot trouble plagued him and he really had only two seasons as a big time base stealing threat. Crawford, of course, has always been a stolen base threat and remains so even after nine seasons in the big leagues.

Both guys were left fielders who dabbled a little in center. Crawford is the superior fielder with fantastic fielding metrics. Stewart was just average out there. Both players had weak throwing arms from the outfield. But the bulk of Crawford's advantage over Stewart in WAR comes from fielding, not from offense.

Both players grew up in warm weather climates, Crawford in Houston and Stewart in Miami. As this Fan thinks about both player's careers, they seem very similar. Stewart was right-handed and Crawford is a lefty all the way. But Crawford's fielding and base running sets him apart. If Stewart hadn't hurt his feet, that might have been different.

* Please click on pics to see their sources.

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