Mariners #2 DH: Nelson Cruz – 15.7 fWAR
The Mariners didn’t have Nelson Cruz for very long, but he re-invented himself while he was with the team, and assuaged most fears and worries of PED use while in Seattle. When he got to the team, he had marks on his track record from the recent suspension, and there was a definite worry that the team could either be wasting money on someone who wasn’t going to be able to hit without PEDs, or was going to get caught using them again.
Luckily for everyone involved, Nelson Cruz did neither of those things. What he did was give the Mariners one of their best 4-year runs by a straight power hitter in team history.
5.0, 4.4, 3.8, 2.5. Those first three years with the truly special ones, and Cruz was a monster at the plate. He would average .292/.368/.557 with 26 2B, 42 HR, 92 R, and 106 RBI over those three years. Power numbers matched with an average like that are hard to come by, and it made every single plate appearance of his an exciting one to watch during his time in Seattle.
The Mariners let him walk after thinking that his numbers were declining after a disappointing (compared to the prior three years) 2018. He would go to Minnesota and hit .308/.394/.626 with 57 HR in just 173 games (remember, 2020 was short) showing that he still had it. It would’ve been a lot of fun to have him as the DH in 19 and 20, but the four years we had him were a joy on their own.
It cements him as the second-best DH the team has ever had, and he’s in a tier of his own at that spot. It’s unlikely that anyone will ever catch number one, and he’s in a completely different stratosphere of tiers. One that starts with H.O.F.