Cruz’s impact on the Twins
Stats are one thing, but the ability to carry a team to new heights is another thing that should be considered when evaluating a MVP candidate. For the Twins, they struggled throughout 2018 generating runs (13th in MLB) and hitting the ball out of the park (23rd in MLB) so the addition of Cruz to the lineup figured to boost in both categories.
Where Cruz’s biggest impact may lie is what he’s done to help the players around them take their game to the next level.
In 2018, a majority of the Twins’ young players struggled to reach their potential. Max Kepler hit .224 for the Twins while Byron Buxton missed a majority of the season with various ailments and only hit .156 when he was in the lineup. Jorge Polanco never found his footing after a PED suspension and it seemed like Eddie Rosario (.288, 24 HR, 77 RBI) seemed like the only player that seemed like a building block.
Fast forward to today and the Twins future has an entirely different look. Miguel Sano has rebounded from his injury-plagued 2018 season to hit 23 home runs in 78 games. Kepler leads the team with 34 home runs and has bumped his average to .254. Polanco started for the American League in the All-Star Game and Buxton has enjoyed a breakout season outside of a couple of stints on the injured list.
While it’s impossible to quantify the impact that Cruz has had on the lineup, it could just be a matter of his leadership by example. Cruz has been to the World Series in the past and knows what it takes for a young player to make a leap on the field.
In addition to taking the pressure off some of the younger hitters to produce, Cruz has helped some of the Twins’ young stars make a massive leap forward in 2019.