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2011 Fantasy Projections, No. 34: Draft Nelson Cruz Before Heyward and Upton

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 22:  Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers bats the New York Yankees in Game Six of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 22, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 6-1. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Nick KappelAnalyst IIIFebruary 9, 2011

Our 2011 fantasy baseball projections will be released one-by-one until the top 100 players have been revealed. These rankings consider past achievements, current performance and expected future results based on standard 5×5 H2H settings.

Nelson Cruz finally shed his “Quadruple-A” nickname in 2009, crushing 33 HR and swiping 20 bases for the Texas Rangers. He followed up with a 2010 campaign that included 22 HR and 17 steals, while increasing his batting average from .260 in ‘09 to .318 in ‘10.

It’s probably also important to note Cruz has missed a total of 88 games over the past two seasons. A sprained ankle landed him on the DL, while various other injuries cost him a total of 34 games in 2009. Three trips to the DL in 2010 forced him to miss 54 games due to hamstring issues.

Cruz is determined to play a full season in 2011, however, as the 30-year-old slugger has altered his running style to avoid another hamstring injury. It’s difficult to predict how this might affect his stolen base totals, but 600-plus plate appearances could yield monster numbers. Heck, Cruz has only played in 267 out of a possible 486 games over the last three seasons, yet he’s averaged 21 HR, 13 steals and a .292 batting average per year.

Despite having one of the worst contact rates, Cruz remains capable of a .300-plus batting average and one of the highest power/steal totals in baseball. Jason Heyward and Justin Upton have similar potential, but Cruz has already proven he can do it. He just has to stay healthy.

2010 stats44560227817.318
3-year average36451216013.292
2011 FBI Forecast56085279020.290



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