Ringolsby: Cruz an easy choice for AL DH
Mariners slugger posting strong numbers, leading AL in homers while playing in challenging ballpark
*** We will be doing daily ASG debates until 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game balloting ends on July 2. We will frequently be pitting one player against another and have a writer make a case for one of them, but that doesn't mean there aren't other great candidates for that position. In fact, your comments could spark a new debate for us to tackle. So let us know what you think! ***
Mariners designated hitter/right fielder Nelson Cruz was slightly behind in the bid to win the starting DH spot for the American League in the All-Star Game, according to the latest voting update issued this week, but there should be no doubt that he should be the one.
Cruz fell behind Kansas City's Kendrys Morales, but does it matter? There is plenty of time remaining to vote, and Cruz has continued to put up the kind of numbers that should give him an eventual edge in the balloting against Morales.
Cruz has shown in the past couple of years that he's one of the most productive hitters in the big leagues. After leading the Majors with 40 home runs while hitting .271 with 108 RBIs last season in Baltimore, he signed with the Mariners this past offseason. Eyebrows were raised at the idea of a power hitter flourishing in a park with the deep dimensions of Safeco Field.
Cruz signed with the Mariners last offseason and eyebrows were raised at the idea of a power hitter flourishing in a park with the deep dimensions of Safeco Field.
Cruz hasn't been daunted by the challenge. He leads the AL in both home runs (18) and OPS (.988), and he ranks third with a .326 batting average. Cruz is also tied for sixth in RBIs with 39. Unlike some power hitters who preceded him to Seattle, Cruz has not lost his touch away from home. He leads the Majors with 14 home runs on the road while hitting .360.
And he has done all that despite hitting behind Robinson Cano, who has struggled at the plate this season, hitting .238.
Morales has had a good year. He is fourth in the AL with 41 RBIs, but he's hitting .287 and has seven home runs -- respectable stats, but they don't match up to those of Cruz.
And Cruz has shown he can still play in the field. Thirty-seven of his 58 games have been spent in right field, where the vastness of Safeco has not been a problem for him. Morales has been the DH for all but one of the 57 games he has appeared in this season, making a single start at first base.
Cruz has been an All-Star three times, including serving as the AL's starting DH last year. He has quietly answered all questions doubters had about him. An election to the All-Star starting lineup would be an exclamation point.
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