This is another installment in our series grading the individual performances of the key members of the 2019 Minnesota Twins. Each player will receive a classic grade on the scale of A through F, based on their hitting, fielding, and whatever else the author wants to consider. We’ve reviewed Byron Buxton here, C.J. Cron here, Miguel Sano here, and Max Kepler here. Today, I’ll be taking a look at Nelson Cruz.
Nelson Cruz gets an A for 2019. End of story. Okay, so maybe it’s not that easy and I need to have something more substantial than that or else TJ will fire me if I haven’t already been fired by now.
As a New Years present to Twins fans, the organization signed Cruz to be their designated hitter and announced it on January 2nd of this year. Boomstick was coming into his age-38 season, so I’m sure there were some questions regarding his age, whether the could still hit, etc., etc. However, Cruz had mashed at least 37 taters in each of the past five season prior to 2019, racking up at least 90 RBI each year as well. It couldn’t get worse, could it?
No. Although Cruz had landed on the Injured List a couple times with a left wrist strain, he still went to the plate in 120 games, which wasn’t much of a concern with the Twins this year considering how much offense they produced. If Cruz was out, then another Bomba Squad member could fill in (who hit a respectable .285/.353/.564 (.917) with 11 bombas and 37 RBI out of the DH spot without Cruz). In 120 games, Boomstick hit the most home runs on the team, totaling 41. He also was second on the team in RBI, one behind Eddie Rosario’s team-leading 109. His slash line of .311/.392/.639 (1.031) also stands at the top of the team’s leader board this year. He notched his 400th career home run this year and also had two games where he launched three homers each - in the span of a week-and-a-half - which was partially responsible for his winning A.L. Player of the Week honors in July.
But offensive capability aside, Cruz has also been a powerful presence in the Twins’ young clubhouse. Zach hinted at this in his article about the Most Valuable Presence award for the first half of the year, and it’s been said many times that he’s a mentor and a leader for the Twins players. The Athletic ran a great piece in early September detailing this (subscription required), especially outlining Cruz’s determination to come back from a ruptured tendon. Jonathan Schoop, Miguel Sano, Trevor May, Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, Rudy Hernandez, James Rowson, all have had nothing but praise for Cruz. It’s no doubt that he’s been looked up to by many players, but perhaps none more than Miguel Sanó, who’s been needing that type of presence in both his professional and personal life. Brotherly love abounded once the Twins clinched the A.L. Central crown.
The Twins organization and Cruz are aware of the importance of his presence on the team so much that the Twins already exercised their club option on Cruz for next season - only two days after the Twins’ season was put to bed for good.
Okay, so I lied. Maybe he deserves better than an A.
Overall Grade: A+
What grade would you give Nelson Cruz’s 2019 season?
This poll is closed