Seattle Mariners All-Decade Team: Designated Hitter

Here we are, at the second to last installment of our Seattle Mariners All-Decade team. After fielding the 8 defensive positions over the past 8 days, today we crown our starting designated hitter.

Before we make on the most obvious announcements on the planet, let’s get those pesky parameters set. First, it only takes one game in a Mariners uniform at the position being discussed to be eligible.

Second, only the stat accumulated with the Mariners between 2010-2019 is relevant to our discussion. This is the All-Decade team, not the All-Time team. Our analysis relies heavily on stats, so this is the most important factor.

While we lean heavily on stats, we also factor in the number of memorable moments these players have generated and also their connection to the fanbase. Fan favoritness can carry a player pretty far in these discussions and is a nice wild card to spice things up.

But now, we reach the DH role in our All-Decade team. Now, I could give a few candidates like Kendrys Morales or Daniel Vogelbach, or I could try and get cute and add a player we discussed earlier like Edwin Encarnacion, but why waste your time? We all know who our champion is.

Seattle Mariners All-Decade Team DH: Nelson Cruz

Few players in Mariners history have become instant fan favorites like Nelson Cruz did in his 4 seasons with Seattle. His personality and charm drove fans to fall head over heels for the one we affectionately call “Nelly”.

Of course, the incredible production on the field didn’t hurt either. In 4-years with the Mariners, Cruz hit .284/.362/.546 with 163 home runs, 347 runs, 414 RBI, a 147 wRC+, and a 15.7 fWAR. Cruz never produced fewer than 37 home runs, 93 RBI, a .509 slugging percent, or a 133 wRC+ with Seattle.

After years of buying into the “right-handed power bats don’t play in Safeco” theory, Cruz destroyed the myth like he did so many baseballs. He was a warrior in the batters’ box, playing through wrist and back injuries, and never playing fewer than 144 games for Seattle.

To put his offensive run into perspective, Cruz’s 147 wRC+ is the exact mark Mariners legend Edgar Martinez produced in his hall of fame career. If not for legends of the game like Martinez and Alex Rodriguez, a very real argument could be made the Cruz is the greatest right-handed hitter in franchise history.

No player on our list (so far) is more loved than Nelly and it is truly an honor to have been able to watch him play for 4-years. We all have our favorite memories. Some of mine are simple groundballs in which Cruz would sprint out of the box, never saving himself if he thought he could get a hit out of it.

Next: Mariners All-Decade Team: RF

But from hitting balls out of the stratosphere to the outstanding impact he left on the city, nobody is more deserving than Nelson Cruz to be in our 2010 lineup. Nelly is great, and should always hold a spot in our hearts.

 

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