Some people do not believe in “clutch”. The timing of hits is based on luck. If that is the case, then Allen Craig who hit .454 with runners in scoring position in 2013 is the luckiest man in baseball. But the baseball gods are a fickle bunch, and just as they bestow greatest on Allen Craig they quickly took it away. At the end of 2013, the baseball gods sent the injury plague to Mr. Craig. It was diagnosis as a Lisfranc fracture, and it has morphed Craig from a perfect fit for Fenway Park to a surefire disaster.
Without a doubt Craig is a professional hitter, he has been at all levels of professional baseball. But since that injury, the ability to turn on a baseball as evaded him. He has never been a dead pull hitter but most of his power has historically been to left field. In 2012-2013, nearly 63% of Craig’s long balls were to the left of center field (he hit 35 total home runs in 253 games). In case you have not heard of Fenway Park, there is a big green wall in left field that is only 310 feet away from home plate, not a bad place for a right handed power hitter. But as car companies know, the new model is not always better. In 2014, Craig devolved into a light hitting outfielder with little power to left field and the inability to crush inside fastballs. In 2013 before the injury, Craig hit .382 (50 of 131) against inside fastballs. Post injury, he hit .189 (28 of 148).
Without the ability to pull the ball, power numbers to left field plummeted. Three of Craig’s eight home runs were to the left field side of center field in 2014.
Bostonians beware; shipping up to Boston may be the worst thing for Craig if he continues his trend. Fenway is a haven for right handed power hitters who can play pepper off the Green Monster. But just a few feet left of Pesky’s Pole; right field at Fenway deepens to 380 feet and walks back to 420 feet before reaching straightaway center field. These are not exactly ideal conditions for a guy who just hit five of his eight home runs to the right of center field in 2014.In fact, only five of Craig’s home runs would have been home runs in Fenway.
Acquiring Allen Craig before 2014 would have been a masterful move for the Red Sox who were trying to acquire some depth in the outfield and at first base. But now they might be better off resurrecting the career of Mark Reynolds by letting him play pepper with the Green Monster (ironically the Cardinals signed him earlier this offseason) and shipping Craig out of Boston. If Craig’s 2014 season is any indication of 2015, only having limited power to the right side will not bode well for the Red Sox and Craig. If Craig cannot adjust to the inside fastball, he may be shipping out of Boston even faster than Bobby V.
Westminster College, Class of 2016, Division 3 Third baseman