Apr 13, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Aaron Crow (43) reacts in the dugout after being pulled in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Twins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
To say that Aaron Crow has struggled when entering a game with men on base would appear to be an understatement. Theoretically brought in to stifle a rally, bringing in Crow has been considered akin to throwing petrol on the proverbial fire. Despite his 0.00 ERA, Crow has allowed five of seven inherited runners to score, getting out of the inning only when the damage has already been done.
Yet, such performances are not typical for Crow. Over his previous three years in the major leagues, Crow only allowed 31% of the inherited runners he had to score. While that is slightly above the major league average 29% over that same time frame, it is not egregiously beyond the norm. Crow had established himself as a viable option in such situations, typically rewarding the Royals confidence when he was brought in with runners on base.
Looking at Aaron Crow’s peripherals, they appear to be right in line with his career norms. He is still generating ground balls at a high rate, and he is keeping opponents from driving the ball for extra base hits. Despite a line drive percentage of 30%, Crow has held opponents to a .189/.250/.243 batting line. It would seem as though Crow is certainly doing his part on the mound, and could actually get better once his line drive rate normalizes.
These struggles with inherited runners just appear to be a matter of bad luck. Whenever Crow comes in with a runner on third, it seems as though the hitter ends up with a run scoring out. Ground balls, instead of resulting in a double play, get the out at first and the inning stays alive. As a result, Crow appears as though he is utterly incapable of being able to leave runners on base.
Seemingly every time Ned Yost brings in Aaron Crow with runners on base, it almost appears expected that he will allow those runners to cross the plate. Naturally, Yost gets criticized for his insistence upon bringing Crow in during these situations. While Yost certainly leaves himself open to being second guessed, he should not be in this case. Crow should be able to get back to being about league average when it comes to leaving runners on, and not the napalm that he is perceived to be.
With improved luck, Aaron Crow should see his ability to strand inherited runners improve soon. The Royals are certainly hopefully that ends up being the case.