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Grading the 2020 Twins: Nelson Cruz

Boomstick gets put under the microscope.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

We’re back at it! Last fall and winter, Twinkie Town writers graded every Minnesota Twins player that touched the field during a game in a Twins uni in 2019. (If you’re interested in those, click here.) The series this offseason will grade the individual performances of each player from 2020, who 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. To peruse the grades from 2020, click here. Today, I’ll evaluate Nelson Cruz.

Last year I graded Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz and while last year was pretty cut and dry on his grade, this year is probably about the same. I still need to write words about his season, so let’s delve into his surface numbers.

In an age-39 season, most players could understandably be written off. Not Boomstick, though. He’s defying odds, even after turning 40 this season. Last year, the year of the Bomba Squad and juiced ball, the slugger put up a .311/.392/.639 (1.031!!) slash line. He continued to hit above .300 in 2020, turning in a .303/.397/.595 (.992) triple slash, compiling a 169 OPS+, hitting above average compared to the rest of the majors.

Comparing that to the rest of the team, his batting average is second to Luis Arraez, who hit .321 (in “only” 32 games) this season. Unlike last year, when a majority of Twins batters tallied double-digit homers, he was one of only four who kept pace, belting 16 home runs which was best on the team. Add on 33 runs batted in (second best to Eddie Rosario’s 42 RBI) and he did his job as designated hitter. It’s not to say he’s had his share of bad games (I recollect a game where he left double-digit runners on base in a loss), but all players have had a rotten time at the plate.

His veteran presence in the clubhouse is still something that should not be taken for granted. If the Twins have gotten anything out of the past two seasons, it’s that Cruz is quite the mentor for Miguel Sano, both who reign from the Dominican Republic. They continued to be seen together commonly on post-game interviews on the Zoom. Not only does Boomstick offer his talents on the field, he is undoubtedly a mentor to many teammates.

Luckily for the team and fans, Cruz does not plan on letting up. Both he and the Twins front office have expressed interest in striking a deal for 2021. If they don’t, Boomstick has left a lasting impression on fans in the new era of Minnesota baseball.

Grade: A


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