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7/1/1980 (36 y, 7 m, 26 d)
$58M / 4 Years (2015 - 2018)
Cruz went 2-for-2 with a single, solo homer, RBI walk and two runs in Sunday's 13-2 Cactus League victory over the Padres. (2/27/2017)
Justin Vibber's 10 Bold Predictions
Justin Vibber (RotoGraphs)
Nelson Cruz: A Late Bloomer Exceeds Expectations
David Laurila (FanGraphs)
The Necessary Analysis of a Red-Hot Nelson Cruz
Jeff Sullivan (FanGraphs)
Nothing But Negative Predictions
Brett Talley (RotoGraphs)
Mariners Infield: It's Okay
Robert J. Baumann (RotoGraphs)
(Click Year to Expand /
Year in Review:
It was obvious going into 2009 that Cruz would be a Person of Interest to the sabermetric community. Despite an excellent minor-league record, he'd only posted a line of .231/.282/.385 over 477 plate appearances from 2005 through 2007. In 2008, after absolutely tearing apart the Pacific Coast League, Cruz brought his bat to Texas with him this time, slashing a robust .330/.421/.609 over the last month of the season – a line buoyed by a BABIP of .388. The question, entering 2009, was which Cruz would show up: the Quad-A or Major League version. The answer, emphatically, was the latter, as Cruz recorded a wOBA of .368 – this despite a BABIP of only .280. Moreover, Cruz's HR/FB ratio of 21.2% placed him eighth among qualified batters, putting him ahead of sluggers like Adam Dunn, Albert Pujols, and Miguel Cabrera.
The Year Ahead:
Where Cruz entered 2009 as more of a question mark, he enters 2010 as an incumbent All-Star – and there's reason to believe that he could actually see a small bump in his production. Of particular interest is Cruz's .280 BABIP, which one could reasonably expect to creep closer, if not to .300 exactly, at least to his career average of .293. Even such a modest improvement could have a positive ripple effect on Cruz's overall production. Batting average, RBI, runs scored: all three are subject to fluctuations of balls in play. None of which is even to recognize Cruz's excellence on the base paths. Though he doesn't have what you'd consider a prototypical base-stealer's body, his 20-for-24 record on stolen-base attempts suggests that, barring injury, he should offer something in all five categories this season. (Carson Cistulli)
The years of languishing in Triple-A are no more for Nelson Cruz. Finally getting an extended look in 2009, Cruz capitalized with 33 home runs and an .856 OPS, paired with good defense in the outfield. This PAST season was an even bigger success, finishing with a .950 OPS. What Cruz could not seem to do was stay on the field. He took three trips to the disabled list in 2010 with a strain to his left hamstring and one the year before to his left ankle. Aside from the official DL stints, Cruz was unavailable on more than a couple days with hamstring problems. When he is on the field, Cruz is a high-powered hitter that will not hurt you with a low batting average. He is even good for 15-20 stolen bases provided the leg injuries this season have not sapped that ability. That’s what it comes down to with Cruz, how much you think he’s going to play. He turns 31 during the middle of the season and with the multitude of recent injuries is no safe bet. (Matthew Carruth)
The Quick Opinion:
A bruising outfielder who hits the ball harder than almost anyone, Nelson Cruz unfortunately comes with an Achilles hamstring.
One of the stickiest labels to shed is the quad-A label, but Cruz is one of the few that did so, and he did so with aplomb. Before his brief 2008 coming-out party, Cruz had sputtered around three different organizations, pounding Triple-A pitching at a near 1.000 OPS clip, while being similarly baffled by big leaguers to the tune of a .666 OPS. The Rangers altered Cruz' approach a bit, opening his stance to see the pitcher a bit better, and he hasn't looked back, as he's hit .283/.345/.540 since, including a solid, if a bit disappointing .821 OPS in 2011. Still, that mark was good for a .352 wOBA (and likely affected by a .288 BABIP), and that's something Cruz would have never dreamed of five years ago. He's a key cog on arguably the best offense in the American League. (Brandon Warne)
The Quick Opinion:
Cruz may not have replicated his amazing 2010, but as far as fantasy players are concerned, he's a nice asset. He'll hit in a wonderful Rangers lineup again in 2012, and as long as your league doesn't count OBP, Cruz will be a pretty high pick in pretty much any league. Now if he could just stay on the field for more than 120 games...
Nelson Cruz may have had a couple of down seasons, but there have certainly been some positives. Cruz has played at least 148 games in each of the past two seasons, besting his previous career high by a full 20 games. Cruz’s 2012 isolated slugging percentage of .200 shows the right-hander still has power, but his homer totals are declining, and if injuries should strike again, he could hit less than 20 dingers in 2013. He has also been attempting to steal less often, taking another weapon out of his arsenal. Cruz has plenty of raw talent and plays in a great park for his skills, so forsaking him in drafts isn’t recommended. Treat him as a second outfielder who will drive in runs when healthy. (Zach Sanders)
The Quick Opinion:
Nelson Cruz has had a couple of down years, but he’s still a solid second or third outfielder in mixed leagues.
A few years ago, Nelson Cruz was a really good, underrated player on the Texas Rangers who was overshadowed by the exploits of Josh Hamilton. Now, Cruz has followed Hamilton into free agency as the player everyone thinks will be overpaid in his decline years. Age and injuries have sapped Cruz's speed in the outfield and (more importantly for fantasy owners) on the base paths. Cruz has always struck out more than the average player, but his walk rate has dropped back below average the last few seasons. Cruz also has a durability problem, only playing in more than 130 games once in his career. His 2013 was of course shortened by a drug suspension, which adds its own peculiar twist to his projection. Cruz is not without his virtues -- he still has power, even if he is unlikely to put up the same numbers outside of Texas. A lot depends on where Cruz ends up, though. He is clearly valuable in fantasy, but even if you thought he could play full time, he is not a top-tier outfielder. A .255/.315/.465 line or something like that will play with 25 home runs, and he should be drafted in all AL-only leagues. Just don't draft him as an outfield anchor. (Matt Klaassen)
The Quick Opinion:
Cruz still hasn't signed as of this writing, and most people expect him to be overpaid. He hits home runs, and has value in most fantasy leagues, just do not expect him to be a star.
Coming off his second-best offensive season at the ripe old age of 33, Nelson Cruz is leaving friendly Baltimore for power-sapping Seattle. Cruz hit 40 homers for the first time in his career and hit for his highest average since 2010, making him the 11th-best player in fantasy baseball last year. While his overall numbers are impressive, Cruz's splits tell a bit of a different story; after the first two months of 2014, Cruz hit .249 with 20 homers -- similar numbers to his previous bodies of work. A move to Seattle will certainly hurt his power numbers, but he wasn't going to hit 40 homers in 2015 regardless of his situation. Cruz is rarely healthy for a full season, but playing DH for the Mariners could help keep him on the field for longer than usual. Look for Cruz to hit between 20 and 25 homers while batting .250 or .260 in the middle of Seattle's lineup. (Zach Sanders)
The Quick Opinion:
Cruz is moving to Seattle, but that's not the only reason he won't hit 40 homers again. Look for Cruz to settle back into his normal self, hitting 20-plus bombs with an average around .250 or .260.
Nelson Cruz: Safeco Field, or MVP Candidate? You’d think you’d only be allowed to one of the two, but you’d be wrong. Coming off something of a career year in Baltimore in which he jacked 40 homers, Cruz signed with the Mariners and entered his age-35 season nearly certain to disappoint. Cruz was aging, moving to a poor ballpark, and losing the protection that comes from hitting in a lineup with Chris Davis and Adam Jones. Yet, Nelly set a new career mark for homers with 44 and hit .300 for the first time since 2010, all while playing part of the year with a sports hernia. It’s not all sunshine and lollipops, though. Cruz has made it through a full season in each of the past four years, but he does have a long history of injuries which will likely crop up again, especially as he continues down the path towards retirement. While hitting the ball extremely hard, Cruz did benefit from some good fortune on balls in play last year -- combine that with a rising strikeout rate and you have a recipe for a batting average closer to his career mark of .273. All things considered, odds are you’ll see 30-plus homers and a .250-plus average from Cruz in 2016, and since he’ll be spending more time at designated hitter, a better chance at a healthy season. (Zach Sanders)
The Quick Opinion:
Nelson Cruz somehow was not hurt by Safeco Field, and he ended up with the second-best fantasy season of his career at age 35. Expect good things from Cruz in 2016, just not greatness.
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Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017 3:33 AM ET
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