An Appreciation of Allen Craig's Amazing World Series Performance

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The circumstances surrounding Allen Craig's World Series hitting make his performance amazing.

In the aftermath the St. Louis Cardinalsstumble-off win in World Series Game 3, second baseman Matt Carpenter sang Allen Craig's praises. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com shared Carpenter's thoughts in his post-Game 3 article on Craig's heroics:

"Hitters hit, man"' Carpenter said. "He's one of those guys who can get in the box and put together a good at-bat when he wakes up out of bed. We knew when we got him on the roster he would find a way to do something to help us. Today was that day."

Rolling out of bed and putting together a professional plate appearance before one has had his morning cup of coffee and sprinkle doughnut is one thing. Doing so after suffering a Lisfranc injury that resulted in six weeks on the bench while facing one of the best relievers in the game is something else entirely.

On September 4, Craig suffered a grotesque foot injury. Immediately upon seeing the play, it was clear that the injury was severe. Nonetheless, the terrifying term "Lisfranc" was not uttered for several weeks. When it was, my heart sank. ESPN's Stephania Bell explained the injury, which is common in football, after the injury to Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell:

Why Lisfranc? Frenchman Jacques Lisfranc, a field surgeon in Napoleon's army, described an amputation technique through this region to address forefoot gangrene following frostbite. There is also a story that soldiers wounded in battle would fall from their horses, but a foot would often remain caught in the stirrup, right at that tarsometatarsal joint. Such an injury often resulted in amputation of part of the foot, from the injured joint forward. Thankfully, with modern medicine, these injuries don't typically require amputation, and surgery can preserve the joint.

Since NFL players aren't riding horses, how does this injury happen? Well, in sports, especially football, one scenario is that the player is running forward with his weight on the ball of his foot and he gets hit or stepped on from behind against his heel. The resultant force through the portion of the foot in between the ball and the heel (midfoot) causes it to buckle, and the midfoot is injured. But it can also result from shearing forces at the foot, the result of a twisting injury when the forefoot remains planted and locked into the ground as the player moves another direction.

Not all Lisfranc injuries are identical. When the midfoot buckles, the ligaments that connect the various bones can become damaged. Ligament injury without any bony impact would be the mildest version of a Lisfranc injury. The more mild sprains can be treated conservatively with rest and rehabilitation. If the damage to the ligaments is more extensive, it can affect the relative position of the bones in the area, and they can shift or dislocate, which is often accompanied by a fracture, resulting in a more serious injury. In the worst-case scenario, an artery passing over that area can also be damaged, affecting blood supply to the foot.

Shifting of the bony alignment typically requires surgery to realign the joint and provide stability, but it's not always easy to detect. Failure to properly correct the injury, however, can result in chronic instability and pain, eventually leading to major arthritis in the area. Even with surgery, it appears that those who have suffered a significant Lisfranc injury may be at increased risk for arthritis down the road, simply because of the trauma to the joint.

The bottom line is that players who suffer these injuries must have their treatment managed carefully, not only with surgery when indicated but in the rehabilitation process as well.

That's right, Craig suffered an injury that a might have led to amputation if he were fighting for Napoleon. The severity of Craig's injury makes it understandable that he sat out the season's final month, the NLDS, and the NLCS. News that Craig would be activated for the World Series was heartening, but it felt unrealistic to expect Craig to hit like the Craigen after a six-week layoff from adversarial MLB game action and with him having a bum wheel.

In Game 1, Craig went 1-for-4 and worked tough plate appearances. In Game 2, The Wrench went 1-for-4 and also drew a walk. Craig looked surprisingly sharp given the large number of games he missed. However, Craig's hitting would become exponentially more impressive when the series came to St. Louis.

Craig's foot relegated him to the bench and pinch-hitting duties. So Craig sat on the bench in the chilly October weather for nine innings. With the go-ahead run on in the bottom of the ninth, manager Mike Matheny called upon Craig to face Koji Uehara.

Uehara has had an amazing season, striking out an eye-popiing 38.1% of opposing batters while walking just 3.4%. Uehara induced a whiff on 18.5% of his pitches. Not surprisingly, Uehara posted a 1.09 ERA, 1.61 FIP, and 2.08 xFIP. Just 33 of the 265 batsmen to face Uehara hit safely; only 16 smacked an extra-base hit.

In the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 3, Craig dug in against Uehara. The slugger had notched just eight MLB plate appearances between September 5 and that at-bat. Craig had been sitting for nine innings with a bum foot. Uehara fired a fastball that Craig jumped on, lacing it to the wall and putting the go-ahead run at third.

After running through what Craig would later call an "obstacle course" to score the winning run on an obstruction call, Craig limped off the field and received 30 minutes of medical treatment before speaking to reporters. ESPN.com's Buster Olney tweeted that the Cardinals clubhouse was in somber spirits due to Craig's health until veteran Chris Carpenter hollered out that they had just won a World Series game.

Craig's availability to hit in Game 4 was an open question. General manager John Mozeliak and Matheny both stated Craig was available to hit. Joe Buck shared during the FOX T.V. broadcast that many in the Boston camp didn't believe he truly was. But in the ninth Craig limped to the on-deck circle and then the batter's box. He would face Uehara yet again. This time, essentially on one foot.

Craig again uncoiled on an Uehara pitch, driving the ball off the right field wall. The first baseman's physical limitations were displayed before the world as he hobbled down the baseline at a sub-Molina pace. Craig was physically unable to run to second for the double he had earned with his cracking hit.

Through 10 plate appearances, Craig's World Series batting line sits at .444/.500/.556/1.056. His gutsy performance has been a sight truly amazing to behold. Hopefully Craig has some more heroics left him.

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