Everyone is excited about J.P. Crawford. I mean, why wouldn't they be?
He is a top-five prospect. He's had a terrific minor league career and will soon be the team's starting shortstop, hopefully for years to come. Experts say he has the potential to be an All-Star and maybe even an MVP candidate someday.
All this stuff is great to hear. Really, it is. It's great to dream about a top young player, one who will hopefully be up in the Majors soon, ready to lead a young club back to contention.
But in the meantime, let's everyone just slow your rolls.
On Monday, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Bob Brookover did a profile on Larry Bowa, now 70, and his role on the team in 2016. It was a nice piece. But within that piece, he made a reference to Crawford that made me do a double-take.
Bowa is also looking forward to top prospect J.P. Crawford's first big-league spring training. The 70-year-old man was the Phillies' first great shortstop, and he was the manager of the team when Rollins, the next great one, came along in 2001. Now, he has a chance to coach the guy who has the potential to be better than both of them.
Look, I'm as optimistic about Crawford as anyone. The kid can field, has a strong arm, and can run. He's also shown he has an idea of what he's doing at the plate, as evidenced by his 12.1% walk rate and 11.1% strikeout rate in Double-A as a 21-year-old last year. Ever since turning pro, he's shown amazing patience at the plate for someone so young.
He looks like the total package. When you see him play, you're watching a Major League player. He looks like he's going to be a really good shortstop for a very long time.
But if you really want J.P. Crawford to succeed, it would be best not to anoint him as someone who could be the greatest shortstop in franchise history.
Now, I realize Brookover was not saying he is going to be the next great shortstop in Phils' history, but even putting him in the conversation raises the average fan's expectations.
He looks like he's going to be a really good shortstop for a very long time. But if you really want J.P. Crawford to succeed, it would best not to anoint him as someone who could be the greatest shortstop in franchise history.
I know it's easy to forget, but the Phillies used to employ a young man named Domonic Brown, who was once famously ranked No. 1 overall among minor league prospects, above Mike Trout. He was the heir apparent to Jayson Werth, and given his lofty prospect ranking, Brown was being talked about as the next great Phillies outfielder.
That, uh, didn't turn out to be the case.
That's not to say Crawford is going to suffer a similar fate. He probably won't. But it will be important to give him time to get his feet wet. Let's allow him to play an inning at Triple-A. Let's allow him to hit .250/.310/.350 for a while without freaking out. Let's allow him to ascend to the Major League level at the right time, and develop at his own pace.
If he puts up Freddy Galvis offensive number his first season, don't go crazy. And frankly, if he turns out to be nothing more than a consistent three-win player during his career, the Phils will have gotten more than their money's worth out of him.
Let's also not forget how amazing Jimmy Rollins was. The guy has 2422 career hits. He has a career .420 slugging percentage. He has 229 career homers, 1396 runs scored, 928 RBIs, and 465 stolen bases. He was a top-flight defensive player for a long time and won an MVP award.
If Crawford is even half the player Rollins was, the Phillies should be very, very thankful.
We're all excited about J.P. Crawford. He has all the makings of a star player. But if you're thinking he has to be better than Bowa and Rollins in order for his career to have lived up to those expectations, you're being unfair to him and you're cheating yourself.
Beware of the expectations game.