We asked you guys to participate in a poll and after more than 300 responses, we learned something about Mariners fans. One thing we asked was about future members of the team’s Hall of Fame.
Our fan poll provided a nice glimpse into the mind of Mariners fans. Some results weren’t surprising, others were. But one of the things that landed in the latter category was the lack of respect being placed on Nelson Cruz‘s name.
Of the 335 responses, only 90 people, or 27% of the voters, believe Nelson Cruz belongs in the team’s Hall of Fame. Why is the number so low? I can’t answer that. But what we can do is lay down the case for Nelson Cruz: Mariners Hall of Famer.
First thing first, in order for Cruz to be eligible, he’ll either need to play one more season for Seattle or the franchise would need to make an exception. Team protocol dictates that to be eligible for the team’s Hall of Fame, a player must have played five seasons for the Mariners. Cruz played in four.
So not only do we need to prove that Cruz is worthy of the honor, we need to prove that he is worthy of the exception. Let’s begin.
First things first, Cruz’s career slash line in Seattle was .284/.362/.546, which is incredibly productive. But for context, the only player in Mariners’ history to beat Cruz in all three categories is actual HOF’er and MLB legend, Ken Griffey Jr.
In addition, Cruz’s 147 wRC+, which keep in mind is adjusted for ballpark and era, is bested only by another actual HOF’er, Edgar Martinez. Right away, Cruz is in the same company as Martinez and Griffey, which is pretty damn special.
What else has he done? I’m so glad you asked. Cruz sits sixth in franchise history in career home runs. The five names ahead of him are Alex Rodriguez, Kyle Seager, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, and Ken Griffey Jr. He also ranks third in career slugging percentage, just behind Griffey and Rodriguez.
His career .284 batting average ranks 14th in club history, three points higher than Mr. Mariner Alvin Davis, and his .362 OBP ranks 10th, slightly better than club hall of famer Jay Buhner. Four of the top 20 home run totals in a single season belong to Cruz, a feat only bested by Griffey.
In 2015, Cruz posted a 158 wRC+, a number that gave him the 10th best offensive season in club history, ranking behind seasons from Griffey (2), Martinez (5), and Rodriguez (3), three of the best hitters of all-time.
In addition to his on the field success, Cruz was also a model citizen in Seattle and an instant fan favorite. “Nelly” was hands-on in the community and exemplified what cities want their professional athlete’s to stand for.
There really is no statistical debate to be had. Nelson Cruz is one of the five best offensive players in Seattle Mariners’ history. But somehow, we can’t celebrate his career in Seattle because he only played four seasons in Seattle and not five? It is ridiculous.
Nelson Cruz was at the same level of an offensive threat as Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. Was it for a shorter time period? Yes. Does that take away anything we talked about today? It shouldn’t. Nelson Cruz is a hall of fame man and hopefully, someday, the Mariners will take the time to honor one of the greatest hitters to ever don their uniform.