17 Again

Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz seems to be something of an afterthought among Ranger fans these days.  There’s so much focus on losing Josh Hamilton, signing Lance Berkman, finding a spot for Jurickson Profar, and pursuing Justin Upton that in all of the chaos (and, in many cases, outright panic) Cruz appears to have become a forgotten piece of the Rangers’ puzzle.
I know all the sabermetricians reading this will immediately commence to bludgeoning Cruz for his subpar WAR, VORP, RF, UZR, FUBAR and SAMCRO, but if you take a look at his power numbers, you just might be surprised at his level of production over the past four seasons.

From 2009-2012, Nelson Cruz had four MORE doubles than Josh Hamilton.

During that same timeframe, Cruz only had TWO fewer home runs than Hamilton.

In fact, Cruz put up 238 total extra base hits over those four seasons, compared to 243 for Hamilton.

Now, I am in no way, shape, or form trying to claim (or even imply) that Nelson Cruz is every bit the offensive equivalent of Josh Hamilton.  But what I am saying is with all the gnashing of teeth over how the Rangers have lost this supposedly impossible-to-replace power source, we still have a guy on this team who has produced very similar power numbers here during a statistically significant period of time.

Cruz also compares favorably to another slugging teammate who’s been here during that same timeframe, Ian Kinsler.  Cruz has more total extra base hits than Kinsler over the past four seasons (238 to 233), as well as more home runs (108 to 91) and more RBI (331 to 280).

Keep in mind, these are all just regular season statistics.  That’s not even factoring in the two huge postseasons Cruz gave the Rangers in 2010 and 2011, when he hit 14 home runs and 27 RBI in 33 playoff games.  Other than maybe Mike Napoli, did any Ranger come up bigger at the plate when the lights shined the brightest?

Look, Nelson Cruz isn’t ever likely to be AL MVP, nor is he even a perennial All-Star.  He probably won’t ever contend for a batting title, either.  But he really should be recognized as a solid contributor to this team, and not simply dismissed as just some garden variety outfielder with no real value to the Rangers.  It’s time to remember #17 again.

Bob Bland is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Bob.Bland@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @SDIBob.

Bob Bland

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