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