No American League team needed Nelson Cruz more than the Seattle Mariners. Last season, the Mariners designated hitters combined to hit .189 with an OPS of .568. Both of those numbers ranked last in the American League.
The M’s also struggled to find power from the right-hand side. The Mariners .604 OPS from righties was the lowest single-season mark for a team since the 1988 Pirates righties had an OPS of .603.
CruzCruz parlayed a terrific 2014 season into a reported four-year deal to help fill those voids in Seattle. The $57 million dollar deal would be the third-largest in total value ever given out by the Mariners trailing only a five-year deal worth $64 million to Adrian Beltre and a 10-year, $240 million dollar deal for Robinson Cano.
This past season, Cruz was the only player in baseball to hit 40 home runs while driving in 100 runs.
From a wins above replacement standpoint, Cruz was worth nearly five wins last season (4.7), after putting up a WAR total of 4.3 from 2011 to 2013.
Although the 4.7 WAR marked a career high, Cruz did have a similar season in 2010 with the Texas Rangers when he had a WAR of 4.1, despite playing in just 108 games.
From Camden to Safeco
While the assumption was Cruz would benefit from playing at Camden Yards last year, he was actually much better on the road than at home. Cruz hit .289 with 25 home runs on the road, while batting .252 with 15 home runs at his hitter-friendly home park.
Despite a .234 career batting average at Safeco Field, all of Cruz’s 15 home runs at Camden Yards this past year would also have been home runs at Safeco.
Baltimore, We Hardly Knew Ya
Free Agent Signings
Good omen for Seattle?
Cruz is not the first slugger to spend just one season in Baltimore before moving on. It was 38 years ago that Reggie Jackson made a splash in New York after spending one season with the Orioles. The Yankees went on to win consecutive World Series titles in his first two seasons.
Gil Bransford, Justin Havens, Paul Kinney and Kenton Wong contributed to this post