In the month of April, the Seattle Mariners scored 10 wins in their first 25 games. During those wins, and even some losses, one player in particular stood out among the team.
Nelson Cruz, resident outfielder, won the American League Player of the Month award for April. The Major League Baseball website says that last year Cruz swung for 40 home runs, leading the Majors in the statistic for the Baltimore Orioles. After that season, the Mariners signed a four-year contract with him, bringing his bat to the team. He led off the season with a league-leading 10 home runs and 22 runs batted in, or RBIs.
According to The News Tribune, when asked if it was the best month of his career, he said that “I guess nobody did better than me. I hit 16 homers last year in May. That’s a lot of homers for a month.” This statistic was off, as he hit only 13 home runs for the month of May 2014. En route to the award, he joined Mariner legends Ken Griffey Jr. and Jay Buhner as the third Mariner to hit eight home runs in an eight-game stretch, as said on the MLB website. On the subject, he gave credit for his success to a higher power.
“God blessed me with health, and that’s the most important thing for me or any player,” Cruz Said. He went on to express his thoughts that age and experience make a player more consistent.
Looking at his career, his only other month comparable to the one he had this April was in last May, where he hit 13 home runs, in contrast to his 10, and 27 RBIs in contrast to his 22. Manager Lloyd McClendon was quoted to say that “He’s been outstanding and I don’t know where we’d be without him.”
The News Tribune also says that Cruz became the sixth Mariner to win the award, and was the first since 2004, when Ichiro Suzuki won it that August. Outside of Suzuki, Edgar Martinez won the award five times, Ken Griffey Jr. won it twice, and Dan Meyer and Alex Rodriguez each won it as well. That month he also hit the third most home runs in an opening month by a Mariner, behind Griffey, who holds both the first and second spots with 13 and 11 home runs respectively. Cruz was also the first Mariner to hit 20 RBIs in the first month of a season since 2008 where Raul Ibanez recorded 20 and 2003 where Bret Boone hit 21.
Cruz continued his hitting streaks into May, and coming into his series on the fourth, he had hit three more home runs and three more RBIs. As said on the Mariners website, coming into May 26, he’s brought his total up even more to 17 home runs and 35 RBIs, piled on top of a .688 slugging percentage and 117 total bases. His 17 home runs still lead the major leagues.