Projecting the 2018 Seattle Mariners: Nelson Cruz

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 07: Nelson Cruz
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 07: Nelson Cruz /

We continue our projection series with a look at the ageless wonder, Mariners Designated Hitter Nelson Cruz. Will this be the year Cruz “acts his age” and starts to decline? I wouldn’t count on it.

Being a Mariners fan is difficult. It seems like no matter what they try, or who they sign, it always fails. Nelson Cruz is the exception. When Cruz signed a 4 year deal for $57 million before the 2015 season, many assumed it was destined for disaster.

However, the deal has become a home run for both the Mariners and Cruz. Cruz has found a home in Seattle, and the Mariners have found a fan favorite who is in the prime of his career. It is odd that Cruz’ prime came from age 33-37, but the real question is, will it continue?

Over the past 3 seasons, Cruz has averaged 42 home runs, with a .292/.368/.557 slash line. It really is incredible. Over that time, Cruz BB% have gone up, and his K% has gone down. It really is a rare trend, but there are some signs of a potential downfall.

Over that same 3 year stretch, his HR/FB rate has dropped 4 percent each season. His line drive percentage is also trending down. However, his Hard hit rate hit a career high in 2017. Cruz is hitting more fly balls, and is striking out less. So what does this mean for Cruz in 2018? Lets take a look at the projection.

Sodo Mojo’s 2018 Nelson Cruz Projection: 630 PA, 165 hits, 26 doubles, 38 Home Runs, 60 Walks, 102 RBI, .289/.357/.535

As you can probably guess, we are predicting a slight drop for Cruz. Nagging injuries are becoming more and more relevant for Cruz, and father time always wins. However, this does not mean Cruz will lose all ability to hit in 2018.

If the Mariners get this production from Cruz in 2018, they should be thrilled. These types of numbers would make him about a 4 win player, which is where he has spent most of the past 4 seasons.

Next: Projecting the 2018 Mariners: Robinson Cano

Whether or not Nelson Cruz will finish the season in Seattle, or find a new home this off-season remains to be seen. There have been no rumblings of any extension talk, and all the signs seem to point to this being the last season for Cruz in Seattle.