This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
On December 11, 2010 Carl Crawford signed a 7 year deal worth $142 million dollars with the Boston Red Sox. Over the previous nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Crawford averaged 45 stolen bases to go along with a .293 batting average and an OPS of .781. As Crawford,who turns 30 years old today, is two thirds of the way into his first season in Boston, he has just 12 stolen bases to go along with a .245 batting average and an OPS of .660.
While this may cause concern for some Boston Red Sox fans, they only need to look at a slew of ballplayers born on the same day as Carl Crawford to understand that the new left fielder may just need a full season to get himself going in Boston. He may not even need a full season. There are a number of players born today who made an impact in Boston in just a few key games.
One such player is Eric Hinske, who helped the Red Sox to the 2007 World Series. His first home run as a member of the Red Sox broke a 2-2 tie game against the Detroit Tigers. Hinske, born on August 5th, 1977, hit 7 home runs during his brief tenure with the team between 2006-2007. Hinske went on to join Carl Crawford and the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 and helped them reach the World Series for the first time by slugging 20 homers during the season. He had a World Series trifecta when he reached the 2009 World Series with the New York Yankees.
Bernie Carbo is a player to consider when trying to determine whether or not Carl Crawford could possibly turn his season and his career around. Born on August 5th in 1947, Carbo found himself coming off the 1973 season with a .286 batting average and an OPS of .819 with the St. Louis Cardinals. After that season, he was traded to Boston, and his first season proved to be a bit underwhelming. For the 1974 season, his average dropped to .249 and his OPS slipped to .778. It wasn’t until the 1975 season that Carbo proved his worth. He slugged 15 homers to go along with a .257 average/.892 OPS, and made his biggest contribution in the World Series against his former team. He cranked a 3 run home run in Game 6 of the World Series, tying the game a 6-6 and set the state for Carlton Fisk’s famous walk-off homer in extra innings.
Jeff Berlinicke wrote an article about Carl Crawford as the cornerstone of the Tampa Bay franchise in a May 2005 issue. Click here to check it out!
Some naysayers may believe that Carl Crawford’s best years are behind him. If Bobby Kielty(born August 5th, 1976) is any indication, even players seemingly at the end of the line can contribute significantly. A veteran outfielder with postseason experience with the Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics, Kielty split his final season in 2007 between the A’s and the Red Sox. Though he hit just .218 dring the regular season, he played a huge role in the ALCS and World Series, including slugging a pinch hit home run in the series ending Game 4 against the Colorado Rockies.
One thing is for sure; it is highly unlikely Carl Crawford’s career in Boston will be remembered as fondly(or infamously) as John “Way Back” Wasdin’s Boston tenure. Born on August 5th, 1973, Wasdin acquired when he was traded for Jose Canseco by the Oakland Athletics. Wasdin allowed 54 home runs during his three plus seasons in a Red Sox uniform. He also allowed 7 runs in 3.1 innings of work between the 1998 and 1999 postseasons. Wasdin did show he was a capable pitcher, however, when he threw a perfect game for the Toronto Blue Jays Triple A affiliate in 2003.
Drafted by the (then) Devil Rays in the second round of the 1999 draft, Crawford need to adjust briefly during his meteoric rise through the minors. He also had an adjustment period during his first two seasons in the big leagues. If Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees is any indication, there can also be an adjustment to playing in a big market like New York and Boston. Having played in an ALCS against Boston and in the World Series against the Texas Rangers, there is great potential for Carl Crawford to build his own Red Sox history like the several players he shares a birthday with.