Surprise positional outlook: Right field
Today's position: Right field
In the field, Cruz's arm was a real weapon. He led Rangers' outfielders with six assists and was solid in right field.
All of his skills were on display in the 2011 ALCS against the Detroit Tigers. Cruz was named the series MVP after belting six homers and piling up 13 RBIs, both big league records for a postseason series. Cruz's most memorable hit was a grand slam in the 11th inning of Game 2. Cruz had tied the game in the seventh inning and then won it when he hit a 1-2 slider out to left field. The 50,000-plus at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington went crazy.
Cruz also used his arm in that series, gunning down Miguel Cabrera at home plate in the eighth inning of Game 4. The score was tied at that point. Cruz then hit a three-run homer in the 11th to put the Rangers comfortably ahead. They took a 3-1 series lead and eventually won the series in six games.
|RANGERS POSITION OUTLOOK|
Jan. 23: Catcher
Jan. 24: First base
Jan. 25: Second base
Jan. 26: Third base
Jan. 27: Shortstop
Jan. 30: Left field
Jan. 31: Center field
Feb. 1: Right field
Feb. 2: DH/Utility
Feb. 3: Bench
Feb. 6: No. 1 starter
Feb. 7: No. 2 starter
Feb. 8: No. 3 starter
Feb. 9: No. 4 starter
Feb. 10: No. 5 starter
Feb. 13: Middle/long relief
Feb. 14: Late-inning relief
Feb. 15: Coaches
Feb. 16: Manager
Feb. 17: Front office
Cruz, like the rest of the Rangers, must put 2011 behind him and move on to 2012. His focus last offseason was strengthening his legs to guard against injury. Despite that, he still had two stints on the DL. Coupled with injuries in 2010, he's been on the DL five times in the last two seasons.
But Cruz gives the lineup power and showed in 2011 he can drive in more runs. He's an integral part of the offense and is capable of big-time hot streaks.
When Cruz wasn't in right field, the versatile David Murphy started 27 games. And Mitch Moreland, who can play first base and outfield, started 28 games. With the club's current configuration, manager Ron Washington said he doesn't intend for Moreland to play much outfield this season. Newly-signed Brad Hawpe can also play out there, if he's able to do enough to make the team (more on him when we look at the bench).
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.