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Nelson Cruz, The 40-Year-Old Masher

Nelson Cruz turns 41 years old this July and yet he has hit 58 HR and driven in 137 over the last 162 games. His OPS is 1.061 and his slashing line is .318/.402/.658. These are already insane numbers for any age, but let alone someone turning 41. Over 73 PA in 2021, Cruz has a 1.023 OPS and seven home runs. He ranks in the 90th percentile or higher in just about every stat cast stat there is for hitting.

Recent Years

In a shortened year in 2020, Cruz posted a .303/.397/.595 slashing line. He has been above .300 over the last three years and his numbers continue to be stable in the power department. Since 2015 he has 44, 43, 39, 37, 41, and 16 home run seasons.

Now he is on pace for another 35+ home run season and if the strikeout rate holds, his average should continue to stay above .300.

Cruz’s batted ball numbers continue to defy odds at his age. Nobody is even close to him when it comes to power numbers. Of players over the age of 35, Alber Pujols is next on the list with 34 HR, since 2019. He is also posting a .295 IBP in that span, while Cruz is at 64 HR and a .390 OBP. Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto who are about two years younger have seen a steep dropoff at their ages.

What Statcast Says

Currently in 2021, Cruz ranks in the 90th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hardhit%, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and barrel %. He has ranked in the top 10% of the league in wOBA and Hardhit% in every season since 2015. His barrel % is also in that mark. Cruz has started to see more breaking stuff over the years, mainly because he mashes fastballs and sinkers. However, he has a .857 SLG off breaking pitches so far this season. Cruz has a good handle on changeups from the past few years with above average numbers.