Some players are late starters who either don't figure it out until a little later in their careers or because they were never really given a chance. Nelson Cruz seems to be the latter and the former at the same time. It's hard to imagine, but for a guy who is going to turn 30 this year, Cruz has been playing professional ball for twelve years. Last year saw him break out with 32 homers with a fairly low batting average. But this year, the guy has been a monster so far.
The Rangers had to gasp on Wednesday night when Nelson Cruz had to leave the game early due to a hamstring problem. He's been their only consistent offensive threat and there he was grabbing the back of his leg. But he played Thursday night and had another big game including his fifth stolen base (with a perfect success rate) and a couple more hits. His line for the season now sits at: .327/.419/.827. Those are pretty eye-popping numbers. It's not likely he will end up that high when all is said and done, but he should easily beat the PECOTA projections of a .260 batting average with a .524 slugging percentage. Don't be surprised if he ends up at .280/.370/.550 for the season. He's off to that good a start.
Add all the offense together with the fact that he currently leads all right fielders in fielding UZR and the stolen bases and you have a really good package. The Rangers have always been an all-offense, no-pitching team. But that has reversed itself last year and this year. But don't blame Cruz. He contributed 32 homers last year and 40+ is not a stretch for this year. If Josh Hamilton can get going consistently, the Rangers' offense will be okay. Keep an eye on Cruz. He is one to watch and so far, he's been a pretty big secret.