Crawford speeds to another milestone

Crawford speeds to another milestone

ST. PETERSBURG -- According to manager Joe Maddon, Carl Crawford's rare combination of speed and power is about as unique as the career milestone he reached against the Rangers on Tuesday night.

The 29-year-old left fielder hit his 100th career triple, becoming just the 24th player since 1871 to attain the milestone in a season he began at the age of 28 and the first to do it since Stan Musial in 1949.

Crawford, the only active player with 100 three-base hits, joined Ty Cobb and George Davis as the only players in Major League history to have 100 triples and 400 steals through their age-28 season.

On top of that, he is just one home run shy of 100 for his career, and his 14 this season put him just one behind third baseman Evan Longoria, known much more for his power hitting than Crawford.

"It's a combination of speed and power. You've got to be able to put a ball in the gap, and you've got to be able to run," Maddon said. "It's a great accomplishment. It's so rare, so unique, and that does speak to that combination. Carl really is unique in that regard. He's unique in today's game in how he's able to incorporate so many tools."

Maddon said that Crawford "smells" triples like few others do. Whereas most might knock a ball into the gap aiming for a double and hoping for three bases, Crawford has a tendency to aim for the triple as soon as the ball comes off his bat.

Crawford is leading the American League in triples this season, with eight. If he holds that lead, it will mark the fourth time in his career he has topped the league in the category. Only eight players have ever led their league in triples at least four times.

After reaching his milestone on Tuesday night, Crawford remained humble about his accomplishments.

"It's nice to be in the company of guys with such names as that. It's something that I didn't set out for, but I'm happy I was able to achieve it," Crawford said. "Whenever you can reach a round number, a milestone like that, it's always nice. I'm really grateful to be able to do things like that."

Maddon, on the other hand, didn't hesitate to heap praise on his All-Star.

"It's still an incredible accomplishment, everything that he's done to this point," Maddon said. "And he's so young, and the thing is, he's becoming a better baseball player on a daily basis. All this stuff is not going to go away. He takes great care of himself. He works very hard. Offseason, in-season, he's a preparer. I'm very happy for him. I thought it was great."