Oct 11, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in game two of the 2014 ALCS playoff baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
The Seattle Mariners bolstered their lineup by adding another power bat for the 2015 season. Nelson Cruz joins a team ready to make a run for the World Series. At 34 years old, can Cruz play like its 2014 or will he fall short of his projections?
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Cruz had what many believe was his best season last year with the Baltimore Orioles. He had 40 home runs (career best), 108 RBI (career best), 159 games played (career best) and a .271 average (best since 2010).
Cruz joins another power hitter, Robinson Cano, to make a dangerous 1-2 punch in the heart of the order. However, was Seattle the best place for Cruz to go in the twilight of his career?
Cano signed with the Mariners in 2014. As the sole power hitter in the lineup, he struggled to put up the same numbers he did in New York. He hit 14 home runs and 82 RBI, worst since 2008. According to ESPN Park Factors, Safeco Field finished last in runs and hits and 12th in home runs for hitters.
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Cruz will likely bat cleanup, behind Cano. Cano will be the one of the two to face a lot of IBB. As a result, Cruz will have a lot of opportunities to drive in runs and smash the ball out of the park. I just don’t see him reaching 40/100 in Safeco Field.
NFBC ranks Cruz as the 21st-best outfielder with a 62.70 ADP. He will enter the 2015 season with outfield and designated hitter eligibility. With the outfield position very deep, why not use a mid-round pick on a top-50 player and slot him at the DH position?
Cruz shook off all the doubt and injury-prone stigma that surrounded him for years. The only time he missed was his 50-game suspension in the last three seasons. He will be worth drafting before Round 10.
Projections: 25 HR, 86 RBI, .252 AVG. Drafted in Round 7.