In 2013, Coco Crisp has already clubbed more home runs than he ever has in a single season, and the Oakland A’s center fielder has also earned himself quite a bit of cash.
The A’s hold a $7.5 million option on Crisp for 2014, which the team would be foolish not to pick up at this point. Incidentially, the San Francisco Giants would have to pay $7 million just to buy Barry Zito out of the final year of his deal in 2014.
Crisp is not only one of the most popular and most respected players on the squad, but the veteran has also been hugely productive. Crisp is hitting .257 with 19 steals and 87 runs, but the most impressive part, of course, has been the 21 bombs. Can the leadoff man explain just where this power surge is coming from?
“Sort of.” Crisp joked. “I’m just having one of those years. I don’t know if it will ever happen again, but I’m grateful. Hopefully it will.” Crisp put an extra emphasis on the final word as he sat back in his black leather chair in front of his locker. Unlike just about every other player on the team, the 33-year-old burner conducts all his postgame interviews from the comfort of executive chair. As is often the case after a game, Crisp has ice packs strapped to his back, a wrist and one of his legs, the icy protrusions underscoring just how fragile the team’s table-setter is.
“It is what it is right now. I’m grateful that I’m able to do it in a helpful fashion as well.”
“Helpful fashion” is quite the understatement. As noted by Guy Haberman of 95.7 FM the Game, 13 of Crisp’s 21 jacks have given the A’s the lead.
“He’s been such an integral part of our offense all season long,” Sean Doolitte said. “It’s not a secret what he brings to the table for us. He’s our spark plug. He sets the table, he’s stealing bases, his defense. Obviously, one of the big stories for him this year has been his power and we’ve been riding him all year.”
On Thursday night at the O.Co Coliseum, Crisp delivered another one of those go-ahead shots in the eighth inning to hand the A’s an 8-6 lead over the Minnesota Twins.
“It’s just another case of him putting us on his back and getting us a win,” Doolittle said.
“It’s a confidence factor,” manager Bob Melvin added. “Knowing your own swing more and more each and every year. And hitting them to the right spots.”
Crisp sure has been hitting them to the right spots in 2013, but he’s also far from the only Oakland player to be doing so.
“For us as a team, we have a few guys in double digits,” Crisp then laughed as he corrected himself: “A lot of guys actually.”
The A’s have connected on an MLB-leading 74 home runs since the All-Star break.
“You can’t just focus on one guy because everybody has that potential. JD [Josh Donaldson] has been one of our most consistent hitters alongside of Jed [Lowrie]. Can’t leave out Cespy [Yoenis Cespedes] and [Brandon] Moss. Moss is leading the team in home runs.We definitely have a lot of threats in our lineup and it takes a lot of pressure off of just one guy to be the power supplier.”
Apparently quite a few of those “threats” hold Crisp in high regard. On Thursday before the A’s knocked off the Twins, Crisp was named the Catfish Hunter Award winner. The honor, which is voted on by A’s players, coaches and staff, goes to the player whose performance on the field and conduct off it best embodies the spirit of the late Hall of Famer.
“The award is very humbling,” Crisp said. “That these guys feel the way they do about me is pretty cool. There’s a few people here that are probably really deserving of that award, and for them to vote for me is a really good feeling.”
The way he’s been crushing long balls as of late, the A’s center field might just force his way into discussion of another award as well. Donaldson, who often bats immediately after Crisp in the lineup, has already been bandied about as a dark horse AL MVP contender.
Donaldson should be a lock to land in the top 10, but Crisp’s low average will certainly count against him in the voting. Then again the A’s did have two players finish in the top 20 in voting in 2012 (Yoenis Cepsedes-10, Josh Reddick-16). This year the A’s have a far larger national profile following the impressive run to the AL West crown last season, and Crisp has the benefit of having played for a number of teams around the league. There’s also the fact as “Coco goes, so go the A’s.’
As Crisp put it: “There’s no telling where I could go.” For now, the A’s will hope that will be deep into the playoffs.