==He IS a Slugger, if Nothing Else==
That being said, pretty much the entirety of his value comes from his ability to hit the ball hard.
And he is very good at that:
|MLB Average (during Cruz career)||2.6%||7.8%||0.148|
Problem is, he’s not really good at anything else. He swiped a few bags back in his 20s, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be doing that in his mid-30s.
Here’s his whole stat box:
|162 Game Avg.||162||641||583||81||156||34||2||32||99||13||5||50||143||.268||.327||.495||.823||114|
That being said … do not underestimate the value of hitting home runs in more than 4% of plate appearances. That is a very rare commodity.
When that slugging ability is combined with the ability to draw walks or avoid strikeouts or speed or playing in the middle of the field, it’s Instant Hall of Fame career.
But Cruz brings none of those things.
He is below-average at drawing walks and below-average at avoiding strikeouts.
He’s maybe not as one-dimensional as Dave Kingman (back in the day), but he’s pretty one-dimensional. Even guys like Mark Reynolds and Rob Deer at least would have double-digit BB%. Cruz does not. His career BB% of 7.9% is really scary-low for a slugger.
But! Again, that one dimension is very good, and very valuable. I can tolerate guys who strike out a lot if they bang a lot of homers. The problem with Casper Wells wasn’t that he didn’t have power, it was that he didn’t have enough power to overcome his K%.
Cruz is not Casper Wells. He has enough power to sustain a 22% K-rate.
(Of course, it is an open question how much of that power survives leaving Texas and getting off whatever he was getting from Biogenesis, but he’s clearly a big, strong guy and his power is not likely to drop off a cliff.)
(On the other hand, it looks to me like he would need a run of good fortune to sniff 40 HR. Upper 20s/low 30s looks like a better guess to me, assuming he plays full seasons.)
Obviously, there is a need to replace the power provided by Raul Ibanez and Mike Morse. Even though the offense wasn’t as good as it needed to be, it would have been worse without the ISO they provided.
Thing is, Ibanez and Morse were very much low-risk propositions. That’s not likely to be true for Cruz.
But I can see overpaying a bit for a power bat in the OF (even he’s not the ideal solution) in the current context (team lacking both power and outfielders).
Just don’t expect him to be the aircraft carrier at the heart of your fleet. Prince Fielder he is not.