If people were able to come to terms with the fact that the Boston Red Sox weren’t willing to pay Jon Lester, the general consensus was that the team got a good return for their deals at the deadline. One of the biggest pieces involved that day was Allen Craig, who came to town along with Joe Kelly in return for John Lackey. However, it has already become apparent that Craig has some trouble staying on the field. Will the Sox end up regretting this move down the road?
Craig, who recently turned 30 years old, broke into the big leagues in 2010 with the Cardinals. In what would have been his first full year in 2011, Craig suffered a broken kneecap in June, which would hamper him for the rest of the year and limit him to 75 games. Surgery in the offseason would require him to miss April 2012, but he was shelved again shortly after with a pulled hamstring.
Craig was limited to 119 games, but was very productive in his time on the field. With 22 home runs and 92 RBIs, Craig proved himself as a middle of the order bat. His line of .354/.522/.876 was nothing to scoff at either. In 2o13, his most complete season to date with 134 games played, Craig hit an impressive .454 with RISP, the third highest in MLB history. His power numbers were down though, as he hit only 13 home runs and 29 doubles, resulting in a .457 slugging percentage.
What Red Sox fans may remember from seeing him in the World Series was his trouble getting around the basepaths. Craig suffered a foot injury in September which kept him out until the Cardinals took on Boston. Even then, he wasn’t able to play in the field and was noticeably hampered while running. Craig ended up being one of the Cardinals best hitters in the series though, going 6-16.
Craig’s steady average throughout his career has taken a big hit so far in 2014. Whether he’s still feeling the effects of past injuries or not, .237 with little power is not the same player of the past few years. And now, only after one game with the Red Sox, Craig will be heading to the DL with an ankle injury. According to John Farrell, Craig aggravated the left ankle while running to first base. It would have been nice to see the “future outfield” in these somewhat meaningless games down the stretch. With Craig being as fragile as he is, it is uncertain just how much he will end up playing this season. If anything, Craig could have gotten used to playing left field in Fenway, which takes some time to get adjusted to.
Craig has three full seasons after this one with the Red Sox, so this track record of injuries is a bit unsettling. It’s possible that the Red Sox don’t see Craig as part of their long term plan, but if he can’t stay on the field, it will be difficult to attract any teams to him.