Aging like a fine wine is what we all hope for, but few get to achieve. Nelson Cruz, however, is in the minority.
Through Wednesday night, Cruz is the proud owner of 395 Major League home runs. Through 2008, entering his 28-year-old season, Cruz was the proud owner of just 22 Major League home runs in 579 at bats. This is good for a rate of a home run every 26 at bats.
After turning 33, he has not seen a season of less than 35 home runs, and that is this season. From 2014 to present, Cruz has hit 238 home runs in 3,251 at bats. That is good for a long ball every 13.7 at bats. With this success, Cruz has been an All-Star in five of the last seven seasons.
Cruz turned 30 during the 2010 season. He is currently the leader for home runs in the decade of 2010, but is in a constant back-and-forth battle with Edwin Encarnacion. For his career, Cruz has more home runs than doubles with 321 for his career.
However, Cruz is more than just a power hitter. He is a career .271 hitter and has a .345 career on base percentage. He has a 2.6 strikeout to walk ratio, but that is better than a lot of power hitters in the time.
Cruz has been clutch as well. He has played in a pair of World Series. In his playoff career, he has hit .292 with 16 home runs in 41 playoff games. He won the 2011 ALCS MVP. As he appears to be bound for another run this year, Cruz will have the opportunity to add to this.
What is most crazy has been the longevity Cruz has played with. While he has missed some games in 2019, he has played in at least 150 games in five of the previous seven seasons. As aforementioned, his talent has aged incredibly well also. Cruz ranks second in the American League to Mike Trout, and fifth overall in baseball this season with his 1.034 OPS. Cruz is the best in the league in barrel percentage and near the top in exit velocity. Simply put, Cruz should be nearing retirement, but instead he is getting better. Not only is Cruz achieving things that almost no nearly-40-year-olds do, he is doing it in the middle of a record-setting lineup. The Twins, with over a month left in the season, set the record for most home runs hit in a single season by one team.
It is possible that the 2019 Twins playoff runs might be the last for Cruz, who has been a complete anomaly. If the 2019 regular season and his playoff career stats display anything, it looks like it will be a run ride. Just sit back and enjoy.