Nelson Cruz turned 40 earlier this month. Early middle age is wearing well on the guy.
The Minnesota Twins’ designated hitter put on an offensive display against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago yesterday afternoon, hitting two homers and two doubles and driving in seven runs to help the Twins to a 14-2 victory over the White Sox.
In so doing, Cruz became the fourth-oldest player in Major League history with seven RBI in a game. He’s in pretty good company, too. The three guys older than him to do it: Stan Musial, Jason Giambi and Reggie Jackson. Cruz also became the second-oldest player in American League history to notch four extra-base hits in a game. The oldest: Rickey Henderson.
Cruz notched his doubles in the first and second innings, hit a solo homer in the fourth and hit a three-run shot in the eighth, finishing the game 4-for-5, scoring four runs and accounting for two of the seven he drove in. Not that any of this was news to the White Sox. Last year Cruz hit .433/.521/.917 against them. He was asked about that after the game:
“It’s nothing against any one, you know. I just try to do my job. If you ask the Royals, they’d probably say that too. For me, it’s just business.”
Either way, playing in the AL Central wears well on the guy.
Cruz signed a one-year, $14.3 million deal with the Twins before the 2019 season and proceeded to hit .311/.392/.639 with 41 homers and 108 runs batted in. It was his best year ever measured by OPS+. Still, because that contract had a $12 million team option on it for 2020 — and because, let’s face it, you don’t always do well gambling on an aging slugger — he took a pay cut for this season even before the campaign was shortened to 60 games.
Then again, people were saying Nelson Cruz was a risk back when he signed with the Mariners before the 2015 season. All he’s done since then, excluding the 2020 campaign, is hit .288/.367/.561 (OPS+ 151) while averaging 41 homers and 104 RBI. On this young season he’s 7-for-13 with three homers already. He has 404 dingers lifetime despite the fact that he never even played in 100 games in a year until his age-28 season.
Fine wine, man. Fine wine.