A few notes courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information about free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz, with whom the Mariners have reportedly agreed on a four-year, $57 million deal:
• Last season with the Orioles, Cruz was the only MLB player to hit at least 40 home runs and drive in over 100 runs. His 40 homers led the Majors, while his 108 RBIs were fourth.
• Cruz is set to be the sixth player in history to switch teams after leading the league in home runs. The last to do so was third baseman Adrian Beltre, who was another Mariners signee after he hit 48 homers in 2004 for the Dodgers. In five seasons in Seattle, Beltre hit at least 25 homers three times, but never more than 26. The others to change uniforms after pacing the league in homers were Alex Rodriguez (Rangers to Yankees, 2003), Hank Greenberg (Tigers to Pirates, 1946), Jimmie Foxx (Athletics to Red Sox, 1935) and Babe Ruth (Red Sox to Yankees, 1919).
• The signing of Cruz addresses three of the Mariners’ most glaring problems from last season, providing production from the right side of the plate, at the DH position, and against left-handed pitching. Seattle’s right-handed hitters had a .604 OPS last season, the lowest mark in a single-season since 1988 (Pirates, .603). The Mariners also had an American League-worst .189 batting average and .568 OPS from their designated hitters in 2014, and the team’s OPS of .636 against left-handed pitchers was 28th out of 30 clubs. Cruz had a .977 OPS vs. lefties in 2014, and he played 89 of his 159 games at DH.
• While Safeco Field has never been a great place for power hitters, Cruz has had moderate success in his time playing in his new home park. The three-time All-Star has nine home runs and a .749 OPS in 52 games at Safeco, most of which came during his eight years with division rival Texas.