A Minnesota favorite has retired. Former Twin, Nelson Cruz, has hung up his cleats and is riding off into the sunset. However, his future in MLB remains a unknown.
Cruz’s Legendary Prime
Signed as a non-drafted free agent by the New York Mets in 1998, Cruz spent roughly the first 5 years of his professional career in the minor leagues. He bounced between MLB club affiliates before making his debut in 2005 with the Milwaukee Brewers.
He was then traded to the Texas Rangers in 2006. It wasn’t until 2009 when Cruz became a name synonymous with power, his age 28 season. For the next 13 seasons (2009 to 2021), he put up numbers that you could only imagine in video games. From 2010 to 2019, Cruz hit 346 home runs. He led the league in that category for the decade.
In 258 games with the Twins, Cruz slashed .304/.386/.598, all bests between the the 8 teams he played for. He also finished in the top 10 in MVP voting (9th in 2019 and 6th in 2020) while earning the Silver Slugger award for the DH spot in the AL.
Basically, he defied father time to give Twins fans a show, and boy are we thankful for that.
But most importantly, he was responsible for adding a nap room for the Twins. I think we can attribute that to his monster numbers with the Twins!
The End of Cruz’s Career and Hall of Fame Case
After being traded to Tampa Bay for some bum named Joe Ryan, Cruz still put up decent number for the Rays.
Cruz signed with the Washington Nationals in 2022 for $15 million and unfortunately didn’t live up to their expectations. Only driving in 64 runs as a 41 year old man I guess isn’t good enough…
To start the 2023 season, Cruz was the Designated Hitter for the Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic team. Not only that, but he was their General Manager, responsible for putting their roster together.
Roughly halfway thru the 2023 season, Cruz was released by the San Diego Padres, whom he signed with in January.
His Baseball Hall of Fame case is certainly an interesting one. Baseball writers tend to not let in those tied to performance enhancing drugs. Many people forget that Cruz was involved in the biogenisis scandal over a decade ago now. He ended up serving a 50 game suspension.
Cruz was the model designated hitter that every organization wanted. Solid batting average, good on base percentage and high slugging. When the term “designated hitter” is used, I think of him, Jim Thome, and Edgar Martinez. Very good company in my opinion.
I don’t think Cruz will make it in to the hall of fame because of the PED issue, but I do think he deserves it. Again, he was the model player at his position for over 13 years.
Does Cruz have a future with MLB still?
In an interview, Miguel Sano spoke to how vital Cruz was to the Twins organization and how he touched his life, as well as many others in the clubhouse.
Sano’s words are telling. He obviously had a massive influence on the club during his time in Minnesota.
As mentioned earlier, he also was the general manager of the Dominican Republic team for the 2023 World Baseball Classic. He put together a fantastic roster. Now imagine Cruz putting his mentorship and roster building skills together… I see a future where he is an MLB manager someday. If not, at the very least, a hitting coach for a major league club.
Thank you Nelson Cruz. For everything!
Former professional High School Baseball player. 12 Handicap Golfer. Patrick Reusse blocked me for calling him old.