Nelson Cruz returned to Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Monday night as the reigning American League Player of the Week. As I wrote on Twitter, “Salt, meet wound.”
Cruz, who turns 38 on Sunday, has not fallen off toward the end of his four-year contract with the Mariners. Some (many?) in Baltimore anticipated a drop-off after he inked a $57-million deal to head to the Pacific Northwest. (Note: I was one of them.)
In keeping with the theme of an O’s season of little-to-no consolation, Cruz’s continued strength at the plate provides little-to-no consolation for fans of the orange and black. It’s still nice to see him playing in Camden Yards again even if it’s for the wrong team.
Cruz’s current $14 million salary would be about the fifth-largest payout on the 2018 Orioles squad behind Chris Davis ($23 million), Adam Jones ($17.33 million), and Manny Machado ($16 million), and roughly even with Alex Cobb ($14 million), according to Baseball Reference. Cruz would slot in just ahead of Mark Trumbo ($12.5 million) and Zach Britton ($12 million).
But I digress …
Let’s look back at Cruz’s two Player of the Week honors in Baltimore.
June 2, 2014
Between May 26 and June 1, 2014, Cruz slashed .476/.556/1.190 with three doubles, four home runs, eight RBI, and four walks in seven games. He even stole a base (but was caught stealing once, too).
A good week for Cruz did not translate to a good week for the Orioles, however, as the team went 3-4 with the four losses happening consecutively on the road. The losing started with two losses in Milwaukee and continued with two more losses in Houston.
You may remember that the O’s began their division-winning 2014 season rather slowly. Following Cruz’s Player of the Week honors, the team held a 28-27 record and was in third place in the A.L. East, 4.5 games back of the first place Toronto Blue Jays.
Sept. 8, 2014
Between Sept. 1 and Sept. 7, 2014, Cruz slashed .407/.467/.963 with a double, a triple, four home runs, 12 RBI, and three walks in seven games.
The O’s finished the week 4-3 with a sweep of the Cincinnati Reds in Interleague play and an extra-innings victory versus the Tampa Bay Rays.
By September the O’s were really rolling. Following Cruz’s second Player of the Week award, the team held an 83-59 record and was 9.5 games up on the second place New York Yankees. Toronto had fallen to third place, 10 games back of the Orioles.
We miss you, Nelson.