Nelson Cruz was unbelievable in the American League Championship Series. While he was nowhere to be found during the American League Divisional Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, he showed up in the ALCS when the Texas Rangers needed him the most.
His six home runs, including game-tying and game-winning home runs in game two, were just a few of the amazing moments that landed Cruz the ALCS MVP.
But, now there’s a debate going down in the Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex about where to put Cruz in the batting order.
So far, manager Ron Washington has kept Cruz in the seven spot, and it’s helped get the Rangers where they are today. While most kicked and screamed about keeping the struggling Michael Young in the cleanup spot, Washington kept him where he was and it finally paid off as Young had his best game of the postseason in the clinching game of the ALCS.
While Cruz has been swinging a hot bat, most fans don’t want to move Cruz in fear of changing what has worked for the team so far. It has nothing to do with superstition, it has everything to do with changing a lineup that, for the most part, has had success this postseason.
As of right now, Cruz is hitting behind guys like Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, and Mike Napoli. All three guys have tremendous power but all three guys also have the ability to hit the ball to all parts of the ballpark.
Cruz is simply a dead-pull and straight-fastball hitter. If you look at where his six postseason home runs have ended up, you’ll see left field being the landing spot for most of them. Sure, he has power, but he’s also one of the more inconsistent hitters in the lineup.
That didn’t stop a certain sports radio host in Dallas from not only wanting Cruz to be moved in the lineup but going as far as to say he hopes the Rangers lose one or two games if they don’t move him. If for no other reason than to bask in being right.
One can have an opinion on what should happen with the ALCS MVP, but rooting for a loss just so you can say, “I was right,” is going a little far.
Washington has done all the right things with his team thus far. He kept Young in the cleanup role, even though the media and the fans were calling for a change. He turned out to be right as his best hitter during the regular season came through huge when the team needed him most.
Washington has not only earned a lot of respect around baseball, but I think he has earned people’s trust as well. It’s why he’s managing the team and we’re not.
Game one will be the biggest game for this Rangers ballclub. This is a game where they can get the momentum going into game two because that’s what this series is going to be all about — momentum.
Winning on Wednesday night also means they have the chance to wrap up the series and celebrate a championship in front of their home fans in Arlington, Texas.
Don’t expect the lineup to have any changes when it’s released later today. Nelson Cruz will be in his familiar No. 7 spot in the lineup right in front of David Murphy and behind catcher Mike Napoli.
It’s worked to this point so why change it?