Of all the compliments Brandon Crawford heard last year, this one struck the sweetest chord.

"I'm prepared to say with confidence that Brandon Crawford is the best defensive shortstop in baseball. His combination of instincts, hands and arm strength separates him from the rest."

Any Giant could have said it, but none did.

It was a Dodger, catcher A.J. Ellis, in one of the daily World Series analyses he wrote for the Los Angeles Times.

At 26, Crawford has nothing to prove defensively as he begins his second full season as the Giants' shortstop. As always, the skepticism points toward his bat, which many folks left for dead after he hit .204 as a rookie in 2011.

Raising his average to .248 during last year's championship season was no small feat from the eighth spot, where grooved fastballs are hard to find in the National League.

Crawford wants more hits in 2013. Marco Scutaro, who signed on to be Crawford's double-play mate for the next three seasons, believes it will happen.

"He's a guy who can be really good," Scutaro said. "Defensively he's unbelievable. At the end of the season last year he did some adjustments with his hitting. He was a little more consistent.

"When he starts getting consistent with his bat, he's going to be something special."