The 2013 season was a season unlike anything we’ve seen from Coco Crisp. Rather than accrue the majority of his value via his steals, his stolen base numbers were cut nearly in half from his 39 bags in 2012 to just 21 this season. This year Crisp launched a career high 22 home runs, including his 100th career home run (where the present author can be seen celebrating at the 0:38 mark and again at 0:52. And yes, that is a Kurt Suzuki shirsey).
Crisp probably shouldn’t be counted on for going 20-20 again next season as his average batted ball speed on home runs as the average true distance decreased from 2012 to 2013. Our very own J.P. Breen takes a much closer look at Crisp’s batted ball info and Breen is much brighter and more handsome than myself, so I urge the reader to take advantage of Breen’s research. The short of it is it seems unlikely for Crisp to post another 20 home run season given his age, 34, as well as the fact he hasn’t hit more than 15 homers since 2005.
With the expected power regression looming, will Crisp remain a viable outfield option? He doesn’t dazzle with batting average and most of his counting stats are unimpressive. As one would expect, his value next year will be closely tied to his steals. Despite stealing just 21 bases this season, Crisp actually posted 6.1 BsR compared to last season’s 5.7 mark, in which he stole 39 bags. Steals are just a part of base running runs of course, and seeing Crisp’s speed stand up in his early-mid 30’s is an encouraging sign for next season. The brilliant Jeff Zimmerman has done research on player type aging curves and fast players, e.g. Crisp, age quite well.
Getting on base — and putting himself in position to steal — has been an area that Crisp has shown improvement. His 10.4% walk rate was a personal best for any of his qualified seasons and his 11.1% strikeout rate was below his 12.4% career mark. Crisp’s 5.1% SwStr% was another career best for a qualified season and unsurprisingly his 87.6% contract rate was yet another career high.
Expecting another power filled season from Crisp would be overly optimistic, however his speed is intact and he will return to batting lead off for Oakland Athletics after
exorcising exercising their club option. Rather than focusing on the power that most likely won’t repeat, look at the things he does well. Crisp will be leading off for a team that tied for the third best offense by wRC+. He is a switch hitter — though he has struggled vs left-handed pitching — and his 1092 plate appearances over the past two seasons are his highest consecutive PA totals since the 2005-06 seasons. He may spend his usual 15-days on the disabled list, however the speed upside and the prime lineup positioning more than make up for that.
Crisp managed to finish the season as a top-20 outfielder as per Zach Sanders’ final rankings and while one shouldn’t expect Crisp to repeat that performance, a strong 2014 season with plenty of steals is on the horizon. Don’t break your arms reaching for Crisp too early, wait and take him in the mid-tier of outfielders. A low double-digit home run count and 35 steals with a .260 average is solid, but not worth breaking the bank/spending a fifth round pick on.
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