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Pete Crow-Armstrong Call-Up and Breakdown
In-depth Pete Crow-Armstrong breakdown by Chris Clegg.
Pete Crow-Armstrong has received the call-up to join the Chicago Cubs. His elite defense will certainly impact the team down the stretch as they have a two-game lead in the second wild-card spot. Crow-Armstrong immediately steps in as one of the best centerfielder and will likely also be a major impact on the base paths. But what should we expect this year and long-term?
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Crow-Armstrong has a slash line of .301/.376/.515 for his Minor League career, with 36 home runs and 71 stolen bases. His strikeout rate of 23.6 percent seems pretty manageable, but what do the contact numbers look like? Last year, PCA ran a 79 percent zone contact rate and a 75 percent overall contact rate. In Double and Triple-A in 2023, the overall contact rate is 70 percent. It is worth noting that PCA spent the first half of the Double-A season with the tacky ball, which severely affected pitch performance. Then, Crow-Armstrong got a promotion to Triple-A as a young 21-year-old where the average competition age is five years older.
Crow-Armstrong’s chase rate is a bit high at 37 percent, identical to his 2022 number, but he has made it work. We have seen more aggressive hitters like Ceddane Rafaela make it work with aggressive approaches. His zone contact of 78 percent is a slightly below-average but passable number.
PCA has grown into more power this year as he has mashed 20 home runs and has 53 extra-base hits in 107 games. In 2022, his 90th percent exit velocity of 103.6 and average exit velocity of 88 mph were pretty solid for a 20-year-old coming off major surgery.
This year, the exit velocities have more of a tick upward, and it is noticeable in the results. His athleticism and loose swing likely allow him to get into more power than we might expect.
Crow-Armstrong is an easy plus runner and shows in both the field and base paths. He has stolen 37 bases this year in 107 games and has been caught just 10 times. I feel pretty comfortable saying he is a perennial 25-stolen base threat for the first half of his career.
I already alluded to it, but PCA will step into the Majors as one of the game’s best centerfielders. His reads off the bat are excellent; he has great paths to the balls and can cover a ton of ground thanks to his speed. I expect Crow-Armstrong to take home several Gold Gloves throughout his career.
For this season, I would temper expectations a hair. It is fun to dream of what PCA could be, but it is essential to remember this is a young 20-year-old making his MLB debut.
We have seen him struggle a bit with breaking balls in Triple-A, having just a 61 percent contact rate and a 21.6 percent swinging strike rate. For reference against fastballs, those numbers are 77 percent and 13.5 percent.
The call-up largely has to do with Crow-Armstrong’s impact on the base paths and in the field.
Long-term, I could see Pete-Crow Armstrong being a perennial 20/20 threat at minimum, but there are certainly seasons where he could approach 25 home runs and 30 stolen bases. His batting average likely settles in around .270 with an OBP in .340 range.