Nelson Cruz capped a six-homer night for the Mariners on Tuesday by launching his 15th dinger of the young season into the bullpen beyond the left-field wall at Safeco Field. For those scoring at home, that’s 15 home runs (or Cruz missiles, if you prefer) in just 32 games. Cruz also leads the American League with a .349 batting average and was second in RBI with 29 entering Wednesday’s games. He could have more RBI, but 12 of his 15 home runs have been solo shots.
The Mariners hoped Cruz would add some thump to the team’s lineup when they signed the slugger to a four-year, $57 million contract in the offseason, but even the biggest optimists couldn’t have envisioned this kind of production. Let’s take a closer look at just how impressive Cruz has been in his Seattle debut:
- Cruz led baseball with 40 home runs last season with the Orioles. He hit his 15th home run on May 23 against the Indians. He hit No. 15 on May 12 this year.
- Only two Mariners hit 15 or more home runs in 2014: Kyle Seager (25) and Mike Zunino (22). Robinson Cano finished 2014 with 14 home runs.
- Seager was the first Mariners hitter in 2014 to reach 15 home runs. He hit No. 15 on July 12 against the Athletics. Zunino hit his 15th home run July 27 against the Orioles.
- Cruz is on pace to hit 76 home runs. Barry Bonds holds the single-season home-run record with 73 in 2001.
- Only 27 players in MLB history have hit 50 or more home runs in a season. The only Mariners hitter to reach 50 home runs was Ken Griffey Jr., who hit 56 in 1997 and 1998.
- Griffey is the only Mariners hitter to hit his 15th home run before May 12. In 1997 he hit No. 15 on May 9, and in 1998 he hit No. 15 on May 10.
- The most recent Mariners hitter to reach 30 home runs in a season was Russell Branyan in 2009. The last to hit 40 home runs was Alex Rodriguez in 2000.
- The Philadelphia Phillies had hit 18 home runs in 2015 entering Wednesday — just three more than Cruz.
It’s more likely than not Cruz will cool off eventually this season, but he sure has been a treat to watch thus far. And who knows, if he does somehow keep this pace up, you could be witnessing history.