We also look back at the Yasiel Puig stint in Los Angeles, which was almost never dull. Plus, there are some minor league signings and a new top 10 prospect list from Baseball America.
In what will hopefully be a recurring podcast segment, we look back through old media guides and baseball cards to highlight a former Dodger. This week’s profile is Willie Crawford, the outfielder who played in Los Angeles for 12 seasons.
Crawford was signed by the Dodgers out of local Fremont High School in 1964, two years before the birth of the MLB Draft. He made his major league debut that September just nine days after his 18th birthday. As a “bonus baby” — Crawford got $100,000 to sign — he had to remain in the majors for a year or be exposed to waivers, but only batted 29 times in 1965 despite lasting the whole year on the active roster.
Multiple references to Crawford’s high school track exploits never translated on the major league basepaths, stealing just 47 bases in his career while getting caught 36 times. He hit .268/.351/.413 with the Dodgers, his 118 OPS+ ranking 39th in franchise history among batters with at least 2,000 plate appearances, just ahead of Dusty Baker, Mike Marshall and Manny Mota, while a tick below Adrian Gonzalez and Jeff Kent, for instance.
Crawford’s best season was 1973, when he hit .295/.396/.453, a 140 OPS+ with 78 walks in a 5.3-WAR campaign. Or as his Topps card told us, Crawford hit .295 with 26 doubles, 14 home runs and 66 RBI.
Crawford died in 2004 in Los Angeles.
Episode link (time: 41:17)