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cruz
Photo: Jon Wells

#23

DH/OF

Nelson Cruz

Nelson Ramon Cruz Martínez, Jr.

Height: 6'2"    Weight: 230

Bats/Throws: Right / Right

Born: 07/01/1980 in Las Matas de Santa Cruz, Dominican Republic

Offseason home: Las Matas de Santa Cruz, Dominican Republic

Nickname: Boomstick

Family: Wife Solanyi Genao, daughter Giada, son Nelson David

Acquired: Signed as a free agent (12/04/2014)

MLB Debut: 09/17/2005

Free Agent after: 2018 season

Twitter handle: @ncboomstick23

Is Nelson Cruz the greatest free-agent signing in Mariners history? We don’t mean amateur signings or players who were already Mariners. The traditional sense of the term: an established player with another team who joins our team. Who’s his competition? John Olerud? Adrian Beltre? Tony Fossas? In December 2014, it actually seemed like a bad deal—Cruz was a slugger on the wrong side of 30 who’d once been suspended for PEDs. Yes, he’d led the league in homers the year before, but in homer-happy Camden Yards. Now he was going to Safeco, where homers die a slow chilly death. And for four years? Until he was 38? 

Yet look at the results. Despite mostly DHing, he led the team in WAR in 2015 (5.1), finished third in 2016 (4.7), led again in 2017 (4.1). He’s been amazingly consistent in the boomstick numbers:

Year HR RBI AVG OPS
2015 44 93 .302 .936
2016 43 105 .287 .915
2017 39 119 .288 .924

Plus he’s the only guy to ever hit the ball out of Safeco:

Interesting stat: He’s currently tied for 9th in career postseason home runs with 16, despite having way fewer plate appearances than the rest of the top 10. Would be nice if his years in Seattle had given him more opportunities in this category. Or one.

EL