Seattle Mariners: Nelson Cruz wins 2017 Silver Slugger at DH

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 22: Nelson Cruz
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 22: Nelson Cruz /
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Seattle Mariners Nelson Cruz won the 2017 Silver Slugger Award for the DH position, making him only the second Mariner player to do so.

There were more home runs hit in a season than ever before this year, and Seattle Mariners DH Nelson Cruz launched 39 of them. Those homers and another excellent hitting season overall earned Cruz the 2017 Silver Slugger award for the DH position. Now, this the second Silver Slugger for Cruz in his career. In 2015, he won it as an outfielder.

The 36-year-old Cruz hit .288/.375/.549 and had a career-high 119 RBI. Based on wRC+, which measures a player’s offensive production after adjusting for league and ballpark, Cruz was the 10th-best hitter in baseball.

He didn’t provide much value with his glove or baserunning ability but was an excellent hitter. The bat was kind enough to earn him a spot on the All-Star team this year, and he used the opportunity to take the first-ever batter/umpire selfie in an All-Star Game.

There were only three legitimate options for the Silver Slugger at DH. Cruz is the well-deserved pick over Tampa Bays’ Corey Dickerson and Cleveland’s Edwin Encarnacion.

He led all DHs in home runs, RBI, batting average and slugging percentage. His bat helped the Mariners finish fourth in the AL with a 102 wRC+. The three teams above the Mariners were the Astros, Yankees, and Indians, all of whom made the playoffs.

Cruz has had an interesting career. He was considered a 4A guy early in his career when he crushed the ball in Triple-A, but couldn’t establish himself in his first couple of attempts in the big leagues. He didn’t get 500 plate appearances in a season until he was 28 years old. When he first hit free agency before the 2014 season, Fangraphs called him the biggest land mine of the 2014 free agent class.