Role 60; Slugger in 5th or 6th spot in a contending lineup; plus player; occasional All-Star.
Years expected to perform at current level
Role 55; Boom-or-bust slugger that should hit in the middle third of an upper-tier lineup; potential to become more streaky as he enters mid- to late-30s.
Starts upright and open; hands at shoulder height; triggers with slight hand movement and stride toward plate; stride occasional moves backward rather than stretching him out; very consistent swing; head remains still; hands in good position to attack and drive bat toward the zone; swing can have length but bat speed is consistently impressive; gets bat on the proper plane with consistency; slight uppercut to swing but not extreme enough to shortcut path through and duration in the strike zone; keeps both hands on the bat all the way through, giving a rigid look to finish, but still extends well and finishes the swing; not textbook swing mechanics but very consistent and something that works for him.
Not afraid to attack; willing to swing at pitches in the zone early and often; gets after fastballs in any count; will be aggressive on fastballs both in and out of the strike zone; has plate coverage to find and drive fastballs in all areas; still aggressive on breaking balls and offspeed pitches but has enough pitch recognition to keep from flailing at pitches; minor propensity to get too aggressive with sliders and swing through them, mistaking them for fastballs; stays on changeups pretty well despite aggressive approach; showed improved ability and willingness to get deeper in counts and set himself up for aggressive swings on fastballs that he can drive out of the park; improved approach at this stage of his career could increase longevity; impressive adjustments throughout 2014 season; has developed overall strong approach that makes his at-bats much more difficult to game plan against.
Intensely competitive; fiery personality that will come through on the field at times; deliberate in what he does on the field and how he approaches all phases of the game; emotions will show through when things don't go his way; expressions of emotion can vanish quickly; appears to have ability to let things go quickly and move forward; no obvious signs that emotional/competitive displays negatively impact on-field performance.
Finds the barrel more than anticipated given apparent rigidity in swing and aggressive approach; hits fastballs with ease and has ability to pick up hits on most secondary pitches; quality sliders will give him fits and can lead to weaker contact; has ability to use entire field and hits at high end of average range when he is comfortable working the middle and opposite field; hit tool can play down when he gets pull happy; improvements in approach throughout 2014 season have led to increased consistency hit tool playing to peak levels.
Raw played to peak levels in career season due to health and consistency; slight uppercut in swing lends to excellent lift; balanced throughout swing and stays back to provide leverage and an excess of torque; ball explodes off the bat; found more counts where fastballs were abundant and was able to feast on them to all parts of the park; raw won't consistently play to elite level shown in 2014 but easily plays at double-plus level; always has potential to drive the ball out of the park; very dangerous slugger.
Below-average runner; 4.43-4.68 with regularity; doesn't always kick it in gear down the line; even as a below-average runner he has enough in the tank to keep defenders honest on ground balls if he chooses to run hard; can take extra bases but more of a station to station runner; speed is not a considerable factor or asset to team.
Glovework has regressed from prior observations; doesn't display strong instincts in OF; half a tick late in reactions to ball off the bat; routes are fringy at their best and at the complete wrong angle at their worst; doesn't have the speed to make up for mistakes off the bat; overall below-average defender that I don't expect to make gains going forward; can handle OF in short stints but should not be counted on as everyday defender on either corner.
Arm is still legit; throws have quick release, excellent velocity, good accuracy; consistently on a line; arm can compensate for some poor overall plays and prevent runners from taking extra bases at times; true plus tool; plays every time he's in the OF; impacts game plan of opposing teams when he's playing the field.
Batted Ball Percentages
Swing / Miss %
*Stats are for the 2014 season
Near elite raw power with chance to approach 30-home run level over next couple of years; willingness to improve approach and work himself into strong counts has improved over the last 2-3 seasons; still an aggressive hitter but more focused on being aggressive with the right pitches rather than all of them; change allows him to take advantage of raw power; experienced player with ability to handle adversity and pressure situations; high end arm strength.
Quickly losing ability to consistently play the field; not a liability on the bases but won't positively impact team performance with base running; has some swing and miss in the game that could hinder ability to achieve average hit tool; razor thin margin for error before he's no longer an impact player.
Means of Exploitation
Has to be attacked with sequence and well located pitches; can punish mistakes from the middle to outer portion of the plate; pitchers can get in on Cruz's hands with velocity but if they miss even a little bit he can still pound the ball; sliders that start on the plate and finish out of the zone are tough for Cruz to handle; quality sequence of full arsenal can lead to weak contact and swings and misses, but doubling up should be done in isolated instances because he shows ability to react and stay on the second edition.
Right-handed power is a premium asset in today's game, and Cruz's ability to hit the ball out of the park with regularity will continue for at least the next couple of season; should be a strong complimentary power piece in a contending lineup but may struggle as the centerpiece to a weaker offense; losing defensive ability and value, and will need to go to a team that can push him to the DH slot with more frequency; durability has been a question mark throughout career and uncharacteristically was not an issue in 2014; continued health will be key to him sustaining or approaching 2014 performance levels, and that continuation is unlikely given history; ability to handle pressure and perform in high leverage situations should help teams looking to get over the hump; short term fix for contending teams looking for extra thump without a long-term commitment.