Many fantasy players have expected Nelson Cruz, who turned 36 in July, to lose power. Keep waiting: He topped 40 home runs for the third straight season. Considering his infield flyball rate was his lowest since 2012, he's getting plenty out of his hits in the air. Proving age ain't nothing but a number, he ranked third with a 26.2 percent HR/FB (none below 20.4 since 2012) and second in average exit velocity (96.2 mph, per MLB Statcast). His hard contact and high walk rates say his recent batting averages look real, but his age and batted-ball splits say to be more realistic with something closer to his .275 career clip. Safeco Field hasn't hurt him; he's hit 17 homers at home in each of the last two years, and 15 in 2014. Fantasy players drafting him solely for power won't be disappointed with expectations of 30 homers. The vet still has tools for a top-50 fantasy season, but lower his floor a bit with another year gone.
Cruz is dealing with a head cold and is out of the Mariners' lineup Friday, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. Robinson Cano is also out with the same illness, so it appears the bug is making its way through the clubhouse. It doesn't appear to be overly serious, but it's unclear how long Cruz will be sidelined so consider him day-to-day.
Cruz is expected back in Mariners camp from the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday, Doug Miller of MLB.com reports. The veteran slugger hit .300 (6-for-20) with three home runs and five RBI in the WBC as Team Dominican Republic fell short in its bid to advance to the tournament's semi-final round with a loss to Team USA on Saturday night. Manager Scott Servais has indicated he'll likely wait until Wednesday or Thursday to get Cruz back into game action considering he got plenty of game action during the WBC.
Cruz went 1-for-3 with a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning of Team Dominican Republic's 7-5 World Baseball Classic victory over the United States on Saturday night. The veteran slugger produced some spectacular heroics at the expense of Team USA's Andrew Miller, jacking an 0-2 slider inside the left-field foul pole at Marlins Park at an exit velocity of 107 mph and launch angle of 23 degrees. The blast gave Team Dominican Republic an eighth-inning 6-5 lead that they would tack one more run onto courtesy of a solo homer from Cruz's former Mariners teammate Ketel Marte. Cruz leads the majors with 127 homers over the past three seasons and is still second on the Mariners this spring with six RBI despite having played in only six contests before departing for the WBC.
Cruz went 2-for-2 with a single, solo homer, RBI walk and two runs in Sunday's 13-2 Cactus League victory over the Padres. Cruz appears intent on getting a full spring training's worth of production in before departing in March for the WBC, as he's now gone 3-for-4 with two homers and five RBI over his first two Cactus League games. Sunday's blast came off Padres starter Zach Lee in the second inning, and Cruz then drove in another run in the third with a bases-loaded walk that plated Ben Gamel. He'll get Monday's tilt against the Royals off after playing in back-to-back games.
Cruz went 1-for-2 with a three-run homer in Saturday's 13-3 Cactus League victory over the Padres. Cruz got his spring off to a momentous start by taking Padres starter Paul Clemens deep in the first inning. The veteran slugger played four innings overall and will be back in action in Sunday's rematch. The Mariners have stated they'll get Cruz and fellow Team Dominican Republic teammate Robinson Cano plenty of work before they depart for the WBC in March.