Nelson Cruz, DH
The Padres signed Nelson Cruz to gain increased power from the middle of the batting order. Who could argue as Cruz for his 19-year MLB career averaged 37 HRs per season. But that number has been declining since hitting 32 HRs in 2021.
Over the last two seasons, Cruz has played 160 games and totaled 618 plate appearances but batted only .235 with 13 HRs and 80 RBIs. The numbers are nowhere close to his career average (.274 with 37 HRs and 105 RBIs). The lack of production (.238/.270/.381) has Cruz clinging to his roster position. It could force the Friars to look elsewhere for a right-handed DH bat.
At 42 years old, Cruz was never expected to be a top-run producer like Manny Machado and Juan Soto, but he was supposed to be a key contributor to the Padres offensive attack. One batting trend that should have the Friar Faithful concerned is Cruz’s strikeout ratio (32.4%) which is a bit bloated than his career mark (22.8%). He has been a victim of chasing balls out of the strike zone with runners in scoring position.
The lack of production from the DH position has been concerning. It remains to be seen how much longer the Padres will keep a hitter with declining skills in the lineup. Cruz must pick up the pace or changes will have to be made.