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The Robes

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:51 PM
It’s hokey, but I don’t think the fact that Donaldson gifted everyone on the team their own robes, and they have turned it into a “thing”...
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2020 Twins Transactions

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:37 PM
There haven't been many yet, but I'll start this today...   The Twins just announced that Zack Littell (hamstring) has been placed o...
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The Perfect Length of a Baseball Season?

Other Baseball Today, 03:15 PM
So Twitter got me thinking... What's the perfect length of baseball season? And then what's the perfect playoffs to be paired with that s...
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Seeding

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:37 PM
This crazy year of 2020 has introduced another new term to MLB playoffs, "seeding". I don't pretend to understand all of it but I do know...
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Relevant magic numbers with tiebreakers accounted for

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:37 PM
After the games of 9/22:   TB over Min: 2 CWS over Min: 4 Oak over Min: 5 Min over Cle: 2 Min over NYY: 4
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Recent Blogs


Twins Ready for a Re-Up with Nelson Cruz?

Back in early March, when the United States was still experiencing a simpler time, Darren Wolfson noted some big news about a Twins slugger. Minnesota was suggested to have had dialogue about bringing Nelson Cruz back for the 2021 season. Regardless of the looming uncertainty, should that be a consideration, and should they want to?
Image courtesy of © Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Signed to a two-year $26 million pact prior to the 2019 season, Cruz was brought in for his age 39 and 40 seasons. Yes, he’s an elder statesman, but he keeps himself in impeccable shape and didn’t make his big-league debut until age 24. Last season he was among the chief reasons Minnesota was dubbed the Bomba Squad as he went on to blast 41 dingers. Posting a career high 1.031 OPS it would be hard to fathom a reason to bet against him in the immediate future.

Looking at Cruz’s slash line provides some beautiful imagery. He finished 9th in the American League MVP voting despite being active solely as a designated hitter. His .311 average was the best in a single season dating back to 2010, and he hit 40 homers for just the 4th time in his career. Virtually anywhere you looked in the counting digit fields, you left impressed.

Statistics aren’t generally indicative of future production however, and a fall off can seem drastic if and when the production disappears. Fortunately for Cruz, who turns 40 on July 1st, the process is what suggests a positive trend of results can continue.

Venturing from his Baseball Reference page, both Baseball Savant and Fangraphs tell an equal exciting story. It was Cruz that topped the 2019 leaderboards across baseball in terms of barrels per plate appearance (12.5%). His average exit velocity trailed only the Yankees Aaron Judge and teammate Miguel Sano. He also sat third in batted balls of 95+ mph exit velocities, producing those instances over 51% of the time. The .351 BABIP doesn’t suggest a great deal of luck was in play, and that’s to be expected when you’ve got a 52% hard hit rate and 31% HR/FB output.

Attached Image: Capture.PNG

Not only was Cruz absolutely murdering baseballs, but he was staying within himself to do so. His 13.8% whiff rate sat right on his career average, and then 30.5% chase rate mimicked that as well. While his 69.7% contact rate was a career low dating back to 2009, he was successfully contacting 80% of the pitches he offered at within the strike zone.

This isn’t entirely unprecedented ground either. Fellow countryman David Ortiz retired following his age 40 season in 2016. Despite a wildly successful career, his final season was among his best. Posting a 1.021 OPS with 38 dingers, the former Twins slugger went out at what could certainly be considered the peak of his existence. Like Cruz, Ortiz had become a full-time designated hitter, and focusing on the craft of obliterating pitches took significant strain off a much less athletic frame.

This isn’t to say there won’t be a decline in store for Cruz. Father time is undefeated, and some of the percentages Nelson produced a year ago are at a level even he has never before seen. However, what he has going for him is that hitting is a craft he’s mastered and the only one tasked of him. He’s intimately in tune with his body, and although the wrist tendon issue could prove more cumbersome as time goes on, risk for future problems should be relatively mitigated.

What Cruz has brought to the table from a production standpoint makes both years of his deal a steal. What he has contributed in the clubhouse, and most importantly imparted upon Miguel Sano, has taken that value up another level on its own. We’ll see what baseball has in store for us in the coming months but asking Nelson to put on a Twins uniform for a couple of seasons into his 40’s seems like more than a reasonable ask.

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5 Comments

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Doctor Gast
Mar 27 2020 07:09 AM

His devotion & faith in the Twins makes Cruz a great asset to us. I`d love to see him retire as a Twin w/ a glorious legacy.

    • TopGunn#22 and DocBauer like this
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stringer bell
Mar 27 2020 07:49 AM

Cruz has been a great addition. I expect he will do very well again during the (most likely) much shortened 2020 season. However, he'll be 40 this year and he will occupy the DH spot in the Twins lineup as long as he is on the roster. The Twins have a whole host of young players who can fill corner outfield/first base/DH in the very near future. Having guys with the flexibility to play in the field manning the DH is preferable IMHO. Unless they get a real bargain in signing him, I think the Twins should not commit to reupping Nelson during the season.

    • DocBauer likes this
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Hoosier_Twinsfan
Mar 27 2020 07:54 AM

I second that!Cruz has been a tremendous teammate to our ball club, especially noticing Miguel Sano's increased dedication to the team with Cruz as his mentor.

In full disclosure, Cruz wasn't my initial choice only because there were other good bats available who could play a position and offer even greater roster flexibility. But I was very happy we signed him and am overjoyed now with the results. But I don't knkw that I'd rush to re-sign him at this time. With this season so up in the air as to when and how long, there are just so many unanswered questions we can only guess at. I have little doubt Cruz will have a fine season, though I doubt he can match 2019, (one of his best years). And while Rooker, Kirilloff and Larnach all seem very close, they have to prove themselves. (Betting they will). I just feel we should wait and see how Cruz, feels and performs and go from there. One of these days, he will give in to age or injury. Hopefully it won't be for a couple more years. But I'd hold off for now.

Cruz has been a great sign and had been amazing specimen despite his age (rubs rabbit foot while chanting “I hope it’s not steroids”).  However a re-sign at this point, when we don’t even know what we’d get out of him THIS YEAR, is fairly pointless.  The likelihood of us getting an old and slow version is astronomically high, unless he starts employing a faerie to drop pixie dust on him as he power-naps.

    • adorduan likes this

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