Cruz altitude.

THE NEWBERG REPORT

Milton Bradley needs 28 more plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. He's fourth in the league right now, hitting .32375 to Dustin Pedroia's .32637.

Bradley's .442 on-base percentage laps the current qualified league-leading mark, Joe Mauer's .413.

Bradley's .577 slugging percentage trails only Alex Rodriguez's .588 slug.

Now consider this.

Nelson Cruz has been around for less than a month. He's played in every one of the Rangers' 22 games since arriving on August 25.

Other than Cruz, no player who has stepped up to the plate for Texas in 2008 has more walks than strikeouts. In fact, very fewer hitters in the league ever do that - of the top 70 walk-drawers in the American League this year, only Mauer walks more than he fans. Cruz - who came into the season with 30 career walks and 121 career strikeouts - has drawn 15 bases on balls for Texas this year, and struck out 13 times.

Yes, 76 at-bats raises a sample-size issue, but this is what Cruz has done with those 76 at-bats:

.329/.446/.592

This is Bradley's line for the year, which would be MVP-esque if not for his inability to stay on the field:

.324/.442/.577

Cruz is not as young as Chris Davis or Taylor Teagarden - in fact, at age 28 he's only two years younger than Bradley - but he plays a position at which Texas needs an answer, and he's unquestionably produced in a way that fits perfectly in this lineup, even when everyone under contract for 2009 is healthy.

And speaking of health, it's never been an issue for Cruz.

Never.

He'll make about $400,000 in 2009. And slightly more than that in 2010. He won't be arbitration-eligible until 2011.

What if Cruz didn't clear waivers in April and was doing this for someone else?

What if someone made a decent trade offer for him in July? (Maybe someone did, and we resisted moving him for whatever was offered.)

Shouldn't we be a little more interested in what's going on here?

 
title_authors

Jamey Newberg

Dallas attorney Jamey Newberg has been commenting on Rangers from the big club down through the entire farm system since 1998.

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas was born in Arlington, Texas, to Richard and Becky Lucas. He lived mostly in Arlington before moving to Austin, where he graduated from The University of Texas. Scott works for Austin Valuation Consultants, Ltd., and has published several boring articles about real estate appraisal and environmental contamination. He makes a swell margarita and refuses to run longer than ten kilometres.

Eleanor Czajka

Eleanor grew up watching the AAA Mudhens in Toledo, Ohio. A loyal Ranger fan since 1979, she works "behind the scenes" at the Newberg Report.

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