Nelson Cruz a good value with Orioles 

February, 24, 2014

New Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz moved way up in my rankings during the weekend because, well, he found employment. It’s still February, and if you’re drafting today, then it’s reasonable to select the few players without jobs, but there comes a time when even that strategy doesn’t make sense. Will Ervin Santana and Stephen Drew actually be playing baseball somewhere in a month? I don’t know. But we’re getting to the point where it’s irrelevant for standard mixed owners. It’s not like those guys are Max Scherzer or Troy Tulowitzki to start with.

[+] EnlargeNelson Cruz
AP Photo/Tim SharpNelson Cruz has found a very favorable situation in Baltimore to be a solid fantasy contributor.

Cruz is no longer a fantasy star -- if he ever really was one to start with -- but there’s some value here and let’s just say I like him landing with the Orioles a lot more than with the Seattle Mariners, the oft-rumored spot prior to the weekend (anywhere but Seattle!).

Cruz fits nicely in the middle of Baltimore’s order, likely right after Chris Davis and Adam Jones, and while industry colleagues sound the alarms of clear regression coming, I don’t really see it. Sure, Cruz tends to hit lefties better than right-handers . . . except he didn’t do that in 2013. In fact, 22 of his 27 home runs came against right-handers. He slugged 59 points better than against southpaws. And for those ready to point out the obvious ballpark change and its deleterious effect, do your research: Cruz hit for a slightly better batting average and one more home run away from cozy Arlington.