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J.P. Crawford Officially Arrives, Will Start at 3B Tuesday

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The long-awaited arrival of the shortstop heir apparent shifts September baseball into a more exciting gear

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Yankees Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

BEHOLD

  1. Hernandez, 2B
  2. Galvis, SS
  3. Herrera, CF
  4. Hoskins, 1B
  5. Williams, RF
  6. Kim, LF
  7. J.P. CRAWFORD, SS
  8. Alfaro, C
  9. Lively, P

J.P. Crawford is officially a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, and will make his Major League debut Tuesday against the Mets as a third baseman, batting seventh.

As with anything Phillies-related these days, there are two sides to this coin, because nothing good with this team is unqualified.

First, the good side: AW HELL YEAH, THIS IS WHAT WE’VE BEEN WAITING YEARS FOR! A premium position player prospect with advanced feel for the strike zone, an uptick in game power and a two-month-long resurgence from a season that once appeared doomed? This is the kind of stuff you live for as a baseball fan, and Crawford’s arrival is yet another piece of the future coming into greater clarity.

Crawford finished his 2017 season with Lehigh Valley hitting .243/.351/.405 in 556 plate appearances. From the time he returned from the disabled list on June 20 to season’s end, J.P. hit .280./.381/.522 with 13 HR in 312 PA; the 15 homers he ended with are a career high by four.

Crawford will play a little of this and a little of that in the field this month, as evidenced by his taste of 2B and 3B late in Lehigh Valley’s season (and, well, his debut coming at the hot corner). He is not the team’s future third baseman; this is a move designed to get him in the lineup more frequently.

The downside to something like this, of course, is that J.P. has two weeks’ worth of games at a position other than shortstop. He will most likely look somewhat uncomfortable at either second or third this month, if for no other reason than the positions are simply unnatural to him. He’s a good athlete, though, so the fear he’ll be a mess is obviously heavily mitigated.

It doesn’t help to have to continue hiking the steepest part of a learning curve as you add “Adjust to Major League Pitching” to the to-do list, so the Phillies are asking a lot of Crawford on days he won’t be playing shortstop. And things like this are a reason why expectations should be leveled for these last four weeks of the season: He’s up here to get his feet wet in preparation for 2018, the appetizer before the main course.

Crawford hits seventh tonight because the catcher must always hit eighth, even if it means stacking three LHBs in a row. He, like Hoskins before him, will face Mets starter Jacob deGrom in his debut, a rather immense initial test. Look for Crawford - also like Hoskins - to work the count and be content to get to two strikes in search of His Pitch. We may see some of the second-half homer power that propelled him to this point, but more line drives than tapped ground balls would, as always, be a good place to start.

The New Era continues tonight, and boy, does it ever feel good.