With the regular season winding down to a dramatic conclusion the Texas Rangers are looking toward the horizon to prepare for playoffs. With a decently commanding lead in the AL Wild Card race with a four game lead over the Rays, the Rangers are safe to assume that they will be making an appearance in the MLB postseason this year. They still have a chance at the AL West pennant as the team sits only two and a half games behind the Oakland Athletics in the standings.
However, the Rangers are not yet playing at their full potential. Their ‘secret weapon’ Nelson Cruz has the possibility of returning to the team once the postseason starts. Cruz is currently serving a fifty game suspension for his violation of the performance enhancing drug policy. The Texas Rangers have a lot of things to weigh when considering whether or not to bring Cruz back for their push at a World Series championship. Here are a few thoughts:
Bring him back
Power- Cruz is the heart and sole of the Rangers’ power-hitting squad. Before departing to serve his suspension he was leading the team in home runs with 27 and also had 76 RBIs.
Runners in scoring position- Texas has been unable to capitalize on opportunities with runners in scoring position in recent games. Cruz could be the guy to step up in the situation and drive home the runners on base.
Extra base hits- The Rangers are struggling hard in the extra base hits column. They just recorded their 14th game this season in which they did not have an extra base hit. Extra base hits are a great way to plate runners in scoring position or even score the speedier players all the way from first base. Cruz has eighteen doubles on the year.
Struggling DH- The Rangers have been unable to fill the designated hitter position with anyone of much value. Lance Berkman still has inflammation in his hip and therefore has not produced the kind of numbers fans were hoping for. Profar and Gentry are also both struggling to heat up their bats. Cruz would slide nicely into the DH spot in the Texas order.
Don’t bring him back
Punishment- Cruz blatantly violated a very touchy MLB rule and deserves to pay the price for that violation. If the Rangers were to bring him back for the postseason they would be encouraging that sort of behavior.
Cruz has been staying in shape and playing ball in Arizona throughout his suspension. In fact, Cruz has probably taken more at-bats than most Rangers since he has had so much time off to improve. By training in Arizona, Cruz is having plenty of time to work on his mechanics and timing of his swing, thereby polishing himself up for playoffs. I personally believe that the Texas Rangers should bring Cruz back to the team for playoffs because he will provide run support and that is where the Rangers have been struggling the most.