Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz
38-Year-Old DHDH
Minnesota Twins
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Cruz continued to hit for elite power as he turned 38 years old; the 37 homers were his fewest since 2013, but it was still a top-10 total in the major leagues. He got there despite spending some time on the disabled list with a sprained ankle early in the season. He ranked among the elite in exit velocity and his plate skills held steady too -- Cruz struck out 20.6% of the time (22.4% for career) and walked at a 9.3% clip (career 8.6%). His batting average ended up falling more than 30 points to .256, but his xBA was .284 according to Statcast. Eventually, the collapse will come, but there is virtually nothing in the underlying profile to suggest Cruz won't be able to keep up a similar level of production for at least one more season. He's UTIL-only now and will serve as Minnesota's everyday DH, playing in a similar lineup and park as he did in Seattle. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a one-year, $14.3 million contract with the Twins in December of 2018. Contract includes a $12 million team option ($300,000 buyout) for 2020.
Plays second spring game
DHMinnesota Twins
March 8, 2019
Cruz started at DH and went 1-for-3 with an RBI in Friday's spring training tie against Tampa Bay. It was just his second game this spring.
The Twins are taking it easy with the 38-year old's schedule this spring, allowing him to play fewer games. He's healthy though and should be ready for Opening Day. Cruz plans to play again Sunday.
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Batting Stats
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Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2016
Since 2016vs Left .942 559 77 38 80 2 .267 .385 .557
Since 2016vs Right .880 1344 180 81 241 2 .282 .349 .531
2018vs Left .932 169 23 11 22 1 .266 .373 .559
2018vs Right .819 422 47 26 75 0 .253 .329 .489
2017vs Left .834 172 19 8 23 1 .229 .407 .427
2017vs Right .950 473 72 31 96 0 .306 .364 .586
2016vs Left 1.020 218 35 19 35 0 .293 .376 .644
2016vs Right .864 449 61 24 70 2 .284 .352 .513
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2016
OPS on Road
OPS on Road
Even Split
OPS on Road
Since 2016Home .856 964 123 57 154 1 .263 .345 .510
Since 2016Away .941 939 134 62 167 3 .292 .374 .568
2018Home .803 301 38 21 51 0 .218 .312 .490
2018Away .900 290 32 16 46 1 .295 .372 .527
2017Home .923 329 43 19 60 0 .300 .380 .544
2017Away .924 316 48 20 59 1 .275 .370 .554
2016Home .836 334 42 17 43 1 .268 .341 .495
2016Away .994 333 54 26 62 1 .306 .378 .616
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Stat Review
How does Nelson Cruz compare to other hitters?
This section compares his stats with all batting seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 400 plate appearances). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Cruz fell one home run shy of hitting 40 homers for a fourth consecutive season in 2017. At 37, we cannot even say he is aging gracefully because he has shown no signs of aging. The overall numbers have been very consistent this decade and there have been no signs of him slowing down as he serves as a full-time DH. It is a testament to his power that there has been no dropoff in production since he left the comforts of Globe Life Park and Camden Yards for the more spacious Safeco Field. Cruz has played in 150 or more games in five of the past six seasons thanks in part to not having to take the field any longer. Cruz and Nolan Arenado were to the only two player last year with at least 35 homers, 90 runs driven in, 90 runs scored and a .285 average. He’s a good bet to make it four straight years in each of those departments.
Many fantasy players have expected Cruz, who turned 36 in July, to lose power. Keep waiting: He topped 40 home runs for the third straight season. Considering his infield flyball rate was his lowest since 2012, he's getting plenty out of his hits in the air. Proving age ain't nothing but a number, he ranked third with a 26.2 percent HR/FB (none below 20.4 since 2012) and second in average exit velocity (96.2 mph, per MLB Statcast). His hard contact and high walk rates say his recent batting averages look real, but his age and batted-ball splits say to be more realistic with something closer to his .275 career clip. Safeco Field hasn't hurt him; he's hit 17 homers at home in each of the last two years, and 15 in 2014. Fantasy players drafting him solely for power won't be disappointed with expectations of 30 homers. The vet still has tools for a top-50 fantasy season, but lower his floor a bit with another year gone.
Cruz far surpassed expectations of probably even the most optimistic last season. He finished second in the majors in homers, first in HR/FB with a career-high 30.3% mark, and was the only player other than Bryce Harper with at least 35 homers and a .300 average. Safeco Field didn't slow him too much, either. While his road OPS was nearly 100 points higher, an .892 OPS and 17 homers at home plays. What hurt most was the team around him. Cruz had the fewest RBI in major league history of any player with at least 44 homers, aside from Barry Bonds in 2003 (90). Inflated by a .351 BABIP, his batting average, his highest since 2010, likely isn't sustainable, as his strikeout rate jumped to an eight-year high 25 percent, while his contact rate tied a career low at 72 percent. Cruz is expected to DH more this year after 80 games in right field last season, which should help keep him healthy, but it's probably wise to pay for 30 homers rather than 40.
Cruz may have been the biggest bargain on the market in free agency last winter when the Orioles picked him up for $8 million on a one-year contract. Under the cloud of a 50-game suspension for his connection to Biogenesis in 2013, and with rapidly diminishing defensive skills to boot, the interest in Cruz was understandably tepid. Staying healthy for the third consecutive year, Cruz posted career-highs in home runs (40), RBI (108) and runs (87) while pushing his average to .271 – his highest mark since 2010. Oddly enough, Cruz had much better numbers on the road last season, including a .930 OPS and 25 of his 40 home runs. Seeking right-handed power, the Mariners signed him to a four-year deal during the offseason. He's ideally suited to DH regularly at this stage of his career, although less time spent in the outfield should significantly reduce the wear and tear on his legs. Last season may go down as the best campaign in the back half of his career, but Cruz's raw power should make him a threat to continue pushing 25 home runs annually – even while playing half of his games at Safeco Field, where he's hit .234/.309/.440 in 52 career games.
Cruz missed the final 50 games of the regular season due to his inclusion in the Biogenesis investigation, but still managed 27 homers and 76 RBI in just 109 games. Texas extended him a qualifying offer for 2014, which Cruz rejected, so he finds himself on the free agent market for the first time in his career. He's battled injuries in the past and will turn 34 in July, making him a poor choice for a long-term contract, but the Orioles were willing to forfeit a draft pick after signing Cruz to a one-year, $8 million deal in February. He'll likely see time in left field and as the team's primary DH, with an opportunity to provide more power and depth to an already steady Baltimore offense.
Cruz managed to avoid the leg-related injuries that had limited for the past several seasons, so his .260-24-90-8 line takes on greater disappointment considering it spanned a full season. His days of being a marginal 30-20 threat are well behind him as his downward trend on the basepaths continued. He swatted just six homers on the road, resulting in a .388 slugging percentage, and while his name hasn't come up often in trade rumors, his .411 slugging percentage on the road in 2011 further illustrates what kind of player one might expect to see in a run-neutral home park. You would be hard-pressed to find a player that benefited more from his home park than Cruz has the past few seasons.
Cruz nearly reached 30 homers despite missing more time with recurring leg issues. It's clear that he's going to miss 30 games a year due to injury, and he's seen his stolen-base totals decline as a result. Despite the flaws, he's all but a lock for 30 homers, but his days of flirting with 20 steals appear behind him. An injury-riddled slugger who hits .260 and doesn't eclipse 90 RBI fits his profile in two of his past three seasons, so be careful when going the extra buck here, and don't pay a premium for the electric power display he had in the postseason.
"Boomstick" was limited to just 108 games due to a season-long nagging hamstring injury, but still managed solid numbers (.318 average, 22 homers, 17 steals) when in the lineup. Vladimir Guerrero's presence in the DH spot limited how often Cruz could rest, a situation that may repeat in 2011 with the signing of Adrian Beltre pushing Michael Young to DH. He's a legitimate 30-20 threat when healthy, and he's a good bet to eclipse last season's run production with anything resembling a healthy campaign.
Cruz finally had the season many expected from him, swatting 33 homers and stealing 20 bases. He struggled at times with an ankle injury, which ended up limiting him to 126 games on the season. He posted .955-plus OPS figures in three different months, though he drove in just 23 runs after the All-Star break as he battled injuries. There's a good deal to like as long as he remains with Texas, and his 2007 flop becomes a more distant memory with each passing year. He'll be a regular presence in the middle of the order, and could see an uptick in his RBI totals with better seasons from Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton.
Cruz's assault of Triple-A pitching (.342/.429/.695 at Triple-A) earned him a late-season look with Texas where his hitting continued (.330/.421/.609 in 31 games). The assault has continued in the Dominican Winter League for good measure (.385/.447/.800 in 65 at-bats), and he'll be part of Texas' starting outfield to start the 2009 season. His major-league flop in 2007 can't be ignored, but it's getting further and further in the distance, and those that snagged him cheap late last season could end up with an absolute steal for 2009.
Cruz managed to hit his way back to the minors after a poor start to the season (.188/.245/.306 in 144 at-bats), proceeded to destroy Triple-A hurlers (.352/.428/.698 in 162 at-bats), and then struggled in the majors again (.235/.292/.316 in 98 August at-bats) before seeing his playing time reduced in September. There are major contact issues (87 K in 307 at-bats), and his role for 2008 will largely hinge on Texas' activity in the free-agent market this winter and Cruz's performance next spring.
Cruz enjoyed a nice season at Triple-A Nashville before being included in the trade to Texas along with Carlos Lee. He didn't do much in an everyday role in September (.256/.295/.422), but he's being looked at as an everday outfielder for 2007.
Cruz destroyed Double-A Huntsville before a midseason promotion to Triple-A Nashville, where he continued to play well. Combined, he hit 27 HR, showed good on-base skills and stole 11 bases. The downside is that he turns 26 this summer and has a tendency to strike out too much. There's a chance he'll win a bench spot for the Brewers this spring; he could be a sleeper if he gets playing time due to an injury.
Between Single-A Midland and Double-A Modesto in 2004, Cruz hit a combined .329 with 41 2B, 3 3B, and 25 HR in 523 AB. He drew 50 walks, which is acceptable, but did strike out 142 times. Mix in 16 steals in 23 attempts, and you have a decent roto prospect, though he turned 24 in July of this past year. He'll need to improve rapidly at Triple-A in 2005 if he wants to be considered a legit full-time prospect.
More Fantasy News
Spring debut imminent
DHMinnesota Twins
March 5, 2019
Manager Rocco Baldelli said that Cruz should make his Grapefruit League debut for the Twins shortly after Wednesday's off-day, Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
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Lands with Twins
DHMinnesota Twins
December 27, 2018
Cruz agreed to a one-year, $14.3 million deal with the Twins that includes a $12 million club option for 2020, Jon Heyman of reports.
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Homers, drives in three
DHSeattle Mariners
September 26, 2018
Cruz went 2-for-5 with a three-run home run and two strikeouts in Tuesday's win over the Athletics.
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Drives in two
DHSeattle Mariners
September 22, 2018
Cruz went 2-for-4 with two RBI on Saturday against the Rangers.
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Returns to action Monday
DHSeattle Mariners
September 17, 2018
Cruz (illness) is batting third as the designated hitter Monday against the Astros, Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Seattle reports.
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