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What About Nelson Cruz?

After the earlier post on Ranger stats that are becoming reliable in 2012, I got multiple questions regarding Nelson Cruz. I probably should have made note of him, since he's having an atrocious season after being the ALCS MVP. His wRC+ sits at an abysmal 55, standing in contrast to 112 over his career, and the 151 he put up in his breakout season.

The reason I did not mention Cruz, however, was simply because nothing out of line for him this season can't simply be dismissed with the cliche "small sample size" refrain. His line drive, swing, contact, strikeout, and ground ball rates are all insignificantly different from what he put up last year or over his career.

What is dramatically different, and pulling down his numbers, is his rate of home runs hit on fly balls; a sad 6.5% on the season. Why is that not alarming? Because it takes 300 plate appearances before you start trusting that number more than you trust the 16.3% rate he's had over his career. So far, Nellie only has 119 PAs.

Adam Morris actually covered this very well, and in great detail, in his most recent YouTube video for Lone Star Ball. He even addresses what Cruz's stats would look like if a few more of those fly balls went over the fence.

So, Cruz has been frustrating this season, but there is not yet any (statistical) reason to assume there's something wrong and we should all start panicking. There is only reason to think it's just May and we have a long season to go.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.