by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Nelson Cruz has never been the pillar of health, with more than 475 AB just once in his Major League career (585 AB in 2012). No matter where he signed, that was always going to be a concern. However, his career home/road split made things that much more worrisome:
- Home – .294/.356/.556
- Road – .242/.299/.435
While that split wasn’t there last season (13 HR at home, 14 HR on the road), an entire career doesn’t lie. You pull him out of Arlington and what exactly could we expect?
Lucky for us, Cruz may have found the perfect landing spot to keep his value high. Last season Oriole Park at Camden Yards yielded the most home runs per game (2.86), something that has consistently been the case over the years:
- 2011 – 2.64 HR/game (second most)
- 2012 – 2.79 HR/game (fourth most)
Of any of the rumored landing spots, Baltimore was clearly going to be the best to maximize his bat’s potential. The Orioles also offer the opportunity to spend a lot of time as DH, a role that will hopefully keep him healthy and in the lineup.
Cruz also slots into the middle of a lineup that was already one of the most productive in the league. Baltimore scored 745 runs last season, placing them fifth in the league. While we had to expect a regression, thanks to a falloff for Chris Davis in particular, there’s no doubting that this team will put runs on the board.
Adam Jones, who likely will hit third or fourth, isn’t an OBP machine but with Manny Machado and Chris Davis hitting in front of him as well there is no doubt Cruz will have chances to drive in runs. If he had landed in New York or Seattle, would we have been able to say that with certainty?
There is obviously going to be some doubts about Cruz, especially with his previous inability to stay healthy. However, he clearly is a better option today then he was just a few days ago. The ability to slot into the DH role could help to keep him in the lineup and the ballpark is a perfect fit. While we wouldn’t project it, would it really be a shock of Cruz hit 30 HR this season?
Consider him an OF3, but if you take him you need to protect with yourself with depth. However, it’s a risk worth taking due to the lack of power across the game.
Sources – Fangraphs, ESPN, MLB.com
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