However, is the lineup any better than 2010, when Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre helped anchor it?
Check out the figures below for the players' 2010 seasons:
The bold numbers indicate who holds the edge in the categories in question.
So far, the new duo blows the old duo out of the water. More hits, runs and RBI by a comfortable margin. The one warning sign comes in home runs where Crawford/Gonzalez only lead by two but trail significantly in doubles.
There's one problem, though: while Crawford and Beltre both appeared in 154 games, there's quite a divide in games played by Gonzalez and Martinez. Gonzalez got to play in 160 while Martinez played in less thanks to being a catcher and missing time with injury. That limited V-Mart to just 127 games.
Let's look at the numbers again, but pro-rated over a full 162 games:
Now that changes things a bit.
There are a few caveats, however. First is the lack of impact defense has on this chart. Gonzalez and Crawford are Gold Glove-caliber players. Beltre is as well at third, but V-Mart certainly isn't a defensive catcher. In fact, Detroit plans to have him play the bulk of his time at DH.
In favor of Crawford and Gonzalez in this comparison is the fact that Gonzalez' power number should rise dramatically at Fenway. Crawford, too, may be able to get over the 20-home run hump that is causing many to scoff at such a lucrative deal for someone who has never hit 20 home runs. Given Crawford impacts the game in so many other ways and checked in with 19 home runs in 2010, it's a strange thing to scoff at.
In addition, it's no sure thing Martinez could repeat his numbers if he continued down the path of catching full-time, although he probably would have approximated his numbers once more in 2011. Beltre, on the other hand, has now turned in two sublime seasons in contract years and hasn't been a factor on offense otherwise. His volatility cannot be discounted.
Ah, but on the flip side, Martinez and Beltre both fill impact positions at catcher and third base. The former position is no easy feat to find above-average offensive production, while third base is important defensively and is no picnic to fill offensively.
First base and left field, on the other hand, are two of the easiest positions to find bats at -- and even defense, if one was so inclined. But defense at first and left is less important than other positions.
Will Beltre and Martinez outperform Crawford and Gonzalez next season offensively as well as defensively? Probably not, but the difference is a lot closer than one may think.
-- Evan Brunell