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Allen Craig

Allen Craig
St. Louis Cardinals – No. 21
First baseman/Outfielder
Born: (1984-07-18) July 18, 1984 (age 30)
Mission Viejo, California
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
April 8, 2010 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career statistics
(through 2013 season)
Batting average .306
Home runs 50
Runs batted in 247
Teams

Career highlights and awards

Allen Thomas Craig (born July 18, 1984) is a Major League Baseball (MLB) first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals. A Cardinals' draftee in 2006, Craig is a product of University of California, Berkeley, and made his Major League debut in 2010. He has also spent significant time playing right field and appeared at every position except pitcher, catcher and shortstop. In 2013, Craig posted the third-highest ever batting average with runners in scoring position at .454.

Early life and amateur career

Allen Craig was born in Mission Viejo, California to parents Ron and Kim Craig and raised in Temecula, California.[1] While still in youth baseball Craig played for the 14-and-under USA Baseball team, playing games in Venezuela. Allen Craig attended Chaparral High School in Temecula where he was a two-sport standout in baseball and basketball. As a senior he earned first team all-league and all-valley honors in basketball while also setting a school record with 94 three-pointers.[1] In the summer of 2002 Craig played for the USA Junior National team, helping them earn a bronze medal at the IABF World Junior Championship.

Craig went to the University of California, Berkeley, and was a four-year starter for the California Golden Bears baseball team at a variety of infield positions.[1] Following his junior year, in which he was named an honorable mention to the All-Pac Ten baseball team and academic team, Allen Craig was named first-team shortstop for Baseball America's 2005 College Summer All-America team.[1]

Draft and minor leagues (2006–12)

The Cardinals drafted Craig in the eighth round of the 2006 draft (#256 overall) and signed him for $15,000.[2][3] He showed power at all levels of the Cardinal farm system, hitting 76 home runs in 3½ seasons in the minors. The bulk of his playing time in the minors occurred between 2006 and 2010. Each season from 2007 through 2009, Craig progressed from the high-A level to AAA and participated from a minimum of 119 games up to 129 while hitting at least .304 batting average with 22 home runs and 80 runs batted in (RBIs).[4] In 2009, Craig increased his versatility playing both first base and left field and posted a .921 on-base plus slugging percentage with the AAA Memphis Redbirds. For these achievements, Craig was named Cardinals system Player of the Year. The Cardinals added him to their 40-man roster that November.[2]

Craig made limited appearances in the minor leagues 2011 and 2012, playing in a total of 19 games, accumulating 20 hits in 69 at-bats with four home runs and 14 RBIs.[4] In 2011, he missed about four months from a knee fracture.[2]

St. Louis Cardinals (2010–present)

Allen Craig made the Cardinals big-league club out of spring training in 2010, and appeared in his first MLB game on April 8.[5][6] Craig hit his first home run on July 19 off the Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Kendrick.

2011

With his two-out go-ahead pinch-single in Game 1 of the 2011 World Series, Allen Craig became the first player with two go-ahead RBIs as a pinch-hitter in World Series play. After hitting a home run earlier in the game, Craig caught the last out of the 2011 World Series, helping to secure the eleventh World Series championship for the St. Louis Cardinals. Craig tied a World Series record Kiki Cuyler and Hank Greenberg held with three game-winning RBIs.[7]

2012

Craig was not expected to become the Cardinals' primary first baseman from Opening Day following the departure of free agent Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the resigning of Lance Berkman. Further, he began the 2012 season on the disabled list (DL) after enduring a fractured kneecap in June 2011 against the Houston Astros.[8][9] Surgery to stabilize the knee that was performed in November 2011 required he miss all of April.[10] On May 1, Craig made his season début that day and the Cardinals designated Erik Komatsu (outfield) for assignment to make room.[11] Injury struck again less than three weeks later when Craig pulled a hamstring in a game against the San Francisco Giants on May 18 and landed on the 15-day DL. To that point, he made a convincing argument for forcing his way into the starting lineup with a combination of top prospect Matt Adams' slumping and Craig's own hitting .373 with .424 on-base percentage and .765 slugging percentage in thirteen games.[12] After returning to action June 1, Craig fabricated a breakout year in first full Major League season, batting .307 with 22 home runs and 92 RBIs in 119 games and leading the Cardinals with 86 starts at first base.[12] Craig emerged as one of the top hitters in the league, ranking tenth in the NL in batting average, seventh in slugging percentage (.522) and 19th in the MVP balloting.[6] He also led all major league players with a .400 batting average with runners in scoring position (RISP).[7]

2013

Craig became the primary first baseman for the Cardinals following Lance Berkman's departure after the 2012 season. On March 8, the Cardinals announced they had reached agreement on a five-year contract with Craig, with a team option for a sixth season.[7] The $31 million deal buys out Craig's three future arbitration-eligible years as well as his first year of free agency. Craig would earn $13 million in the 2018 season if the Cardinals exercise their optional sixth year.[13]

In July, Craig was selected to his first All-Star Game as a reserve first baseman at Citi Field in Queens, New York City following a first-half performance of batting .333 with 10 home runs and 74 RBIs. His RBI and hit totals (116) were second in the National League. He is the fifth alumnus of the California Golden Bears to be named to an MLB All-Star team.[14]

Craig belted the game-winning grand slam against the division rival Cincinnati Reds on August 26, bringing the Cardinals back from a 5–4 deficit to win 8–6. It was Craig's first career grand slam, boosting his totals to seven hits in ten bases-loaded at-bats to go with 20 RBIs to that point in the season (14 for 31, .452 batting average for his career).[15] He was also batting .452 with runners in scoring position –– again leading the Major Leagues –– and it also was the third-highest of all time for a single season, after George Brett (.469, 1980) and Tony Gwynn (.459, 1997).[16] A Lisfranc injury Craig suffered on September 4 on an infield hit against the Reds forced him from appearing for the rest of the regular season. At the time he was third in the NL in RBIs with 97 and finished eighth. He also finished eight in batting average (.315). His .454 batting average with RISP led the Major Leagues, and was the third-highest all-time.[6][17]

However, Craig's chance to play arrived again late in the postseason. The Cardinals qualified with the best record in the regular season record (97–65) in the National League. They kept winning through the playoffs, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Division Series and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. He was ready as a hitter in time for the 2013 World Series against the Boston Red Sox but manager Mike Matheny excluded him from defense as the injury was not fully healed. Therefore, Craig served as the designated hitter (DH) in at Fenway Park in Boston and a pinch hitter at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, a National League park where no designated hitter is played.[18] In Game 3, Craig was part of an unusual, game-ending, play. With the scored tied 4–4 in the bottom of the ninth, Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay hit a ground ball off Koji Uehara toward second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who threw the ball home to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to easily tag out Yadier Molina attempting to score. Saltalamacchia then threw the ball to Will Middlebrooks as Craig was rounding third, but the ball sailed wide into right field for an error, and, at the same time, Middlebrooks tripped Craig. Daniel Nava recovered the ball and threw it back home long before Craig would have successfully scored. However, umpire Jim Joyce awarded Craig home plate when he called an obstruction on Middlebrooks, giving the Cardinals a 5–4 walk-off victory. This is the first known such walk-off victory in World Series history.[19][20]

Awards and honors

Award/honor # of times Dates (Ranking or event) Refs
Major leagues
Major League Baseball World Series Champion 1 2011 [7]
Major League Baseball All-Star 1 2013 [21]
Minor leagues
Minor leagues All-Star 5 2006 midseason (New York-Penn League), 2007 midseason and postseason (Florida State League), 2008 midseason and postseason (Texas League) [22]
Minor leagues All-Star game Top Star 1 2007 (Florida State League) [22]
Baseball America's Cardinals' top prospects 4 2007 (#15), 2008 (#26), 2009 (#7), 2010 (#5) [3]
Baseball America's Cardinals' best minor league power hitter 2 2009, 2010 [3]
Cardinals system Player of the Year 1 2009 [2]
Cardinals organization Player of the Month 2 June 2007, July 2009 [22]
The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Top Prospect 2 2010 (#7), 2011 (#7) [2]

Personal life

Allen Craig holds a degree in Social Welfare from the University of California-Berkeley.[23] On November 12, 2011, he married his long-time girlfriend, Marie LaMarca. The couple reside in their mutual hometown of Temecula, California, along with their daughter Eden and pet tortoise, Torty.[24] Torty, who Craig has had since a hatchling, has served as an informal mascot for the Cardinals.[23][25] When growing up, his favorite baseball player was Ken Griffey, Jr. and he was also a fan of Cal Ripken, Jr..[23] His favorite movies are Major League and Major League II.[23] Craig enjoys golf as a hobby, having played since being introduced to the game as a small child by his father, and also enjoys playing basketball.[23]

See also

References

External links

  • Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference (Minors)

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