Mariners #4: Julio Cruz – 7.6 fWAR
Julio Cruz was one of the OG Mariners. He played on the 1977 team at age-22, appearing in 60 games that year. He showed promise with a decent average and an okay walk rate, but no power at all. The tradeoff for no power was a lot of speed, and it translated into a great stolen base rate.
Cruz was actually the 42nd best base stealer in history, going off of success rate, with an 81.47% mark. It was even better during his time with the Mariners, when he would go 290-349, successfully stealing at an 83.09% clip, which would actually be 23rd all-time.
His first full season, at the age of 23, would be when he truly showed off just how fast he was. 59-69 on steals, which would be a career-high for Cruz. That would lead into the statistically best season of his career in 1979 when he would put up a 2.8 fWAR. He played great defense, like always, but would put up the highest WRC+ plus of his career with a 93.
A large part of that were career-highs in batting average (.271), OBP (.363), and walk rate (12.8%). What’s even more impressive is that he did it in just 107 games, which was his average for games played from 1979-1981.
It would’ve been fun to see him play full seasons those three years, as he still swiped 137 bases over that time frame. 1979 really could’ve been a special season, with over a 4.0 fWAR, and a shot at 70+ steals. He comes in 4th, behind another speedy Mariner, although this one wasn’t very good at stealing bases. At all.