Pennant Racin', Sept. 30
All right, we’re getting down to it now, last two days of the season, and it’s chaos in the American League, where there are still four teams very much alive for the final three spots in the playoff chase (one of those spots a division title), and it’s a bit less chaotic in the National League, where technically there are four teams alive for the final two playoff spots, but two of them are just about dead now, and let’s see what last night brought!
Seattle Mariners (beat the Rangers 8-0)
Not too long ago, when I was singing the praises of Julio Rodriguez — as we all should do from time to time — a Brilliant Reader wrote in to say that, while he loved Julio, it was actually J.P. Crawford who has been the Mariners’ MVP all season. I happen to love Crawford, have since he was a mega-prospect with the Phillies, but I let that one pass by (so much so that I cannot even find the email to identify the BR).
I still think that Julio, because he’s such a magnetic and thrilling player and personality, is the life force behind the Mariners. But, the Brilliant Reader is right in that we should not sleep on the excellent season that Crawford is having. By the numbers, he’s no longer an elite defensive shortstop, and it’s actually a little bit shocking how undynamic he is on the bases. But he leads the American League in walks, he has 35 doubles and 19 homers, and he has a chance to become one of FOUR predominately leadoff hitters* to drive in 100 runs this season.
*Crawford — unlike Mookie Betts and Ronald Acuña Jr., (presently tied for the leadoff record with 106 RBIs) and Marcus Semien (99 RBIs) — is not exclusively a leadoff hitter. He has played 111 of his 142 games in the leadoff spot. Still, he now has 96 RBIs. Before this year, only two leadoff hitters — Charlie Blackmon and Darin Erstad — had driven in 100 runs from the leadoff spot.
Crawford has been a consistently positive presence (while Julio has been quite mercurial), and he’s been particularly good in the middle of this Mariners final and desperate final weekend push to the playoffs, hitting the walk-off double against the Rangers on Thursday and hitting a grand slam against the Rangers on Friday.
So here’s the deal:
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