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Friday, June 1, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: IS NELSON CRUZ ENTERING DECLINE PHASE?

When an established major league star hitter begins to make his way into his mid-to-late-30's, talk begins to percolate about the inevitable "cliff season" that will soon be making its unwanted arrival.  One thing that no human being can escape are the ravages of time/age and major league hitters (and pitchers for that matter) are no different.  So when 37-year-old perennial All-Star slugger Nelson Cruz spends the first two months of the 2018 season initially injured and then follows that up with depressed offensive numbers, alarm bells go off.  Entering into Thursday's games, Cruz carried around the following statistics which are earning him some scorn by his fantasy baseball owners:

.239
9 HR
24 RBI
14 R
1 SB
19.7 K/9
5.6 K/9
.252 BABIP

Having hit 39 or more home runs each of the last four seasons, Cruz right now is not on a pace to make it five.  While his 9 home runs are a solid total through two months, his overall numbers are down and the .239 average is causing primary concern.  Regarding the average though, a few things stand out.  The first is that Cruz' .252 BABIP is in the unlucky realm and for Cruz this is especially true since he has been at .315 or higher the previous three seasons.  The hits are just not falling in for Cruz so far this season but luck is playing a major role in that development.  In addition, Cruz' 19.7 K/9 is very good and if the season ended today, would represent his lowest mark there since 2010.  So bad luck is really playing a key role in depressing Cruz' average and so his fantasy baseball owners should not really be buying into the "getting old" narrative.  Yes Cruz' 5.6 BB/9 rate is a sharp fall from previous norms but other then that and some ill earlier health, things are looking pretty much on par from a statistical standpoint.  So all Cruz owners should stay calm here as things should turn around overall from here on out as the average should rise and the power is likely going to remain at or just slightly below previous levels.


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