Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 4/29/13
There’s no debating the fact that the last two years have been rock bottom for Carl Crawford, but it seems that he is back better than ever in 2013. He’s more patient at the plate, not strikeout out as much, surprisingly hitting for power, and aggressive on the basepaths. These are all good things, so let’s break them down piece by piece.Patience — Right now Crawford is being the most selective he has ever been in his career. His 23.3% chase rate (career 31.5%), 44.0% swing rate (career 52.7%), and 9.0 BB% (career 5.3%) are all better than his career rates. Whether this is a new approach or just small sample size at work we don’t know, but it’s definitely a great sign and worth watching closely.Strikeouts — In his two years in Boston, Crawford’s strikeout rate was 19.0%, which is a lot higher than his rate in his nine years in Tampa Bay (14.2%). This year, his strikeout rate is a more manageable 16.0%, which is a good sign that he’s back to his normal rates.Power — His .216 ISO is a career-high and at 32 years old we shouldn’t expect that to hold. He also has a high 26.4% line drive rate, which would be a career high, and has led to 10 extra-base hits including 4 HR. Don’t expect the homers to continue though.Stolen bases — He already has four steals, in six attempts, and if he can continue to get on base regularly he will be a safe bet for 30 steals. His career OBP is .333, but he’s currently getting on base at a .390 clip.4/28 RecapJohn Lackey made a successful return after his scary biceps strain. He only threw 81 pitches and the Red Sox will definitely monitor him closely as tries to return to full strength. It was only the Astros, but Lackey was looking better before the injury so he’s worth keeping a close eye on.Tony Cingrani has been absolutely brilliant in his first three starts and he’s throwing basically one pitch. Granted his first two starts were against very poor lineups (Marlins and Cubs), but yesterday’s start — 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 11 K/1 BB — came against the Nationals.Kevin Correia currently has a hilariously low 10.6 K%, but his control has been impeccable (3.6 BB%). It’s only a matter of time before the contact that he is allowing will catch up to him, but when at home he should be a good spot start.Looking AheadThe Rockies called up Nolan Arenado this weekend and he will get the everyday gig at 3B. He’s worth an add in every league based on his upside and home park, but his PA will be limited because of his spot at the bottom of the order.Those who are struggling to find a steady catcher should take a look at Carlos Ruiz, who is back from suspension. There’s no reason to believe he can’t continue hitting for a good batting average, although his power may take a slight hit.Monday’s Probable StartersDespite the light schedule there are still plenty of options today. Bold = Start.Lucas Harrell (HOU) @ Andy Pettitte (NYY) — Pettitte has been very good to start the year and now he gets a home start vs. the pathetic Astros lineup.Mike Pelfrey (MIN) @ Max Scherzer (DET) — Scherzer has entered must-start territory, Pelfrey was never there.Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE) @ Wade Davis (KC) — Davis gets a pass for his poor start in horrible weather against Detroit. I say he gets back on track at home vs. the Indians.Tommy Hanson (LAA) @ Dan Straily (OAK) — Straily has only started against the Astros once this year, but the Angels could pose some problems. I’d stay away from both of these pitchers today.Zach Britton (BAL) @ Joe Saunders (SEA) — Even with the game in Seattle, I’m not touching these two.Stephen Strasburg (WAS) @ Julio Teheran (ATL) — Strasburg’s 0-4 record is perplexing, but you can’t sit him against anyone. Teheran is coming off his best start of the season, in Coors Field nonetheless, but I need to see more consistency before starting him with confidence.Matt Harvey (NYM) @ Jose Fernandez (MIA) — Fernandez has struggled in his last two starts, but his most successful start this year came against the Mets. Harvey has been record-breaking good to start the year.Clayton Richard (SD) @ Jeff Samardzija (CHC) — Samardzija could strike out 10 in this matchup.Wandy Rodriguez (PIT) @ Yovani Gallardo (MIL) — These two are trending different directions (Way-Rod going up and YoGa going down), but both are start-worthy. Gallardo has always been a better pitcher at home.Mat Latos (CIN) @ Adam Wainwright (STL) — Both are must-starts.Matt Cain (SF) @ Ian Kennedy (ARI) — Cain finally broke out of his slump against the Diamonbacks last week so why not trot him out there again? Kennedy has been all over the place this year, but a 2.38 ERA vs. the Giants over the last three years should make him a good start.Tyler Chatwood (COL) @ Ted Lilly (LAD) — With Troy Tulowitzki banged up and the game away from Coors, I like Lilly to build on the momentum he created in his first start back.#ProfStatsNote: We are going to start a new trend (literally) where we post fun and interesting stats we find around the baseball twittersphere with the hashtag #ProfStats. We encourage our readers to do the same, either through your own research or something you come across on the web, and we will post them in our daily recaps!Via @ESPNStatsInfoDavid Ortiz has a 20-game hitting streak dating back to last season, the longest hitting streak in his career.Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has 9 saves in April, the most he’s ever had in that monthVia @Stats_MLBKevin Correia is 1st Twins pitcher to go 7 or more innings in 1st 5 appearances of the season since Carlos Silva (10 straight) in ’05.Via @MLBStatoftheDayBryce Harper‘s 9 homers through 24 team games tie him with Henry Rodriguez (1996) for most for any Expos/Nationals player.In 162 career games, Harper has 72 XBH. No player since 1916 has collected more XBH this early in his career, at such a young age.Matt Moore has allowed just 13 hits in 32 IP this season.
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