He actually used to be one of the best hitters in the major leagues. And it was not that long ago.
Remember, Craig hit .312 in his best three seasons (2011-2013 with the St. Louis Cardinals).
A lisfranc foot injury he suffered late in 2013 really set him back. Since then, he just has not been the same.
Even when he hits home runs, he doesn’t look the same.
He was more off balance on a better pitch. Yeah, the foot is an issue.
Last year, Craig was sent down to the minors because of his poor play. And for him, it may have served as a wake up call.
“It definitely stung,” he told WEEI. “It’s definitely a different position to be in, going to the minor leagues, having spent four to five seasons in the big leagues as an everyday player. It stung a little bit, and it was a little bit of an adjustment going down there and getting used to that again. I felt like I did a good job. I held my head high, worked hard and I felt I did pretty well down there. I had good at-bats, walked a lot, got my hits. I did OK and I feel alright about it.”
Statistically speaking, he might just be the worst hitter in Red Sox history (.139 batting average in 179 at-bats). The only explanation is the injury. Even if his numbers looked that bad at the top level, it’s not time to write him off.
He is not a liability to them anymore. He is no longer on the 40-man roster, so his salary does not count against the major league payroll.
There’s no expectation on Craig either at this point. He’s just in the organization right now and he looks destined to play first base for the PawSox this season simply because they need a body. Hanley Ramirez, Travis Shaw, David Ortiz, Pablo Sandoval and Brock Holt are bodies at the top level who have played first base (except Ramirez, who is supposed to be their starter).
Last year, Craig hit well in Pawtucket. But not well enough to warrant time at the top level. He was an above-average bat in AAA. And that’s definitely progress. It could be worse, he could have struggled.
It would take a lot for Craig to get back where he once was, but don’t say it’s impossible just yet.
He is a right-handed bat who can play first base and the corner outfield spots comfortably. There is some value in that — even if he can never be the Allen Craig of old ever again.