One of the true beauties in baseball is the precise measurement of each stat. Every day, numbers gurus are coming up with new ways to measure old things. Meanwhile, Nelson Cruz keeps measuring bombs.
Through May, the Baltimore Orioles left fielder sat at 20 home runs, on pace to reach 60 by season’s end. That would be the highest total since Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa in 2001, and put him in company with only five other players in MLB history.
It’s worth noting that out of those five players, the only two to reach 59 home runs and not be implicated in steroid scandals, investigations, or accusations are Babe Ruth and Roger Maris.
Baseball, and home run totals in particular, have been clouded by the use of performance enhancing drugs over the past several decades. As the use of PED’s dropped, so did home run numbers.
Cruz is no different, as last year, he served a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball for his involvement in buying performance enhancing drugs from a clinic based out of Florida.
The 33-year old Cruz is currently leading the American League in RBI as well. Cruz, who signed an $8 million deal with Baltimore this year, took a $2.5 million pay cut after leaving the Texas Rangers. He’s a free agent after this season, and will likely be heavily pursued, despite his age.
Toronto Blue Jays powerhouse Edwin Encarnacion is also hot on Cruz’s trails, after hitting 16 home runs in May, putting him at 18 on the season.