Cruz has an interesting history with the Rangers. He came over as a part of the Carlos Lee-Francisco Cordero trade in July 2006, and at the time was considered a AAAA player. Nelly lived up to that name until his breakout All-Star year in 2009 when he hit 22 homeruns before the All-Star break. After finishing second in the Home Run Derby to Prince Fielder, Cruz struggled with injuries in the second half of the season and only managed 11 homeruns and 23 RBI.
Cruz enjoyed his best season in 2010 with a slash line of .318/.374/.576 and an OPS+ of 146 (100 is considered average). The trouble again, for Nelly, was injuries as he only played in 108 games.
When many of us look back on the 2011 season, we remember the majestic homeruns that he hit in the postseason and, in particular, the six he had against Detroit in the ALCS (was named MVP). Once again though, Nelly struggled with hamstring issues during the regular season and only played in 124 games while hitting .263/.312/.509. He also only managed to steal nine bases after stealing 20 in 2009 and 17 in 2010.
So who is Nelson Cruz? He is a guy who has averaged 2.4 bWAR over the last three seasons which equates to a MLB starter. In other words, he is just a guy. Yes, a guy who had a historic 2011 postseason, but over the course of a season, his hamstrings cannot be trusted. Thankfully for the Rangers, his two years remaining are fair for both parties (2/$16M). When his contract expires, he will be 33 with that much more wear and tear on his legs. At this time, he should not be considered a part of the Rangers’ future.
Cruz is the older, less durable slugger who resides in the outfield in Arlington. Whoa Nelly!