Cruz, who finished second last year, becomes the first Mariner to win the award since it was named after the club's legendary DH and current hitting coach.

Share story

Nelson Cruz’s brilliant 2017 season with the Mariners earned him the prestigious award named after the hitting coach he works with every day to achieve such success.

On Thursday, Major League Baseball announced that Cruz was voted as the winner of  the 2017 Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. Cruz finished ahead of Cleveland’s Edwin Encarnacion in the voting.

“Nelson is truly deserving of the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter of the Year Award,” Martinez said in a statement. “I see first-hand how his presence both in the clubhouse and in our lineup provide stability that makes his teammates around him better. While he goes about his work in a quiet way, we are glad that he is receiving the national recognition that he deserves.”

Cruz posted a .293 batting average, a .378 on-base percentage, a .556 slugging percentage with 88 runs scored, 28 doubles, 38 home runs and 114 RBI in 147 games at designated hitter for the Mariners. He was named to the American League All-Star team and picked up the Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award for designated hitter. He was named the team’s Most Valuable Player by the local chapter of the BBWAA.

Among players with at least 250 plate appearances as a designated hitter in 2017, Cruz led all of them in batting, hits, runs, home runs, RBI, slugging, on-base plus slugging percentage and extra-base hits. He was tied for first in doubles and second in on-base percentage.

In total, Cruz drove in a career-high 119 runs this past season — the most in the American League. He was the first Mariners’ hitter to lead the league in RBI since Bret Boone in 2001. He was the fourth player in club history to accomplish the feat, joining Boone, Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr.

Besides RBIs, Cruz set career marks in walks and on-base percentage. He led the Mariners in games played, runs scored, home runs, RBIs, walks, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS and extra-base hits. It was the second straight season he drove in more than 100 runs and third time he’s done that in his career.

Cruz finished second for the award last season to David Ortiz.

This the was 44th year that the MLB has handed out an award for outstanding designated hitter. It was renamed by Commissioner Bud Selig in a September 2004 ceremony at Safeco Field in honor of the retiring Martinez.  Ballots are cast by club beat writers, broadcasters and American League public relations departments. All nominees for the award must have a minimum of 100 at-bats at designated hitter. Martinez won the award five times.

Cruz enters the final year of his contract with the Mariners in 2018.

Previous winners:

  • 1973 – Orlando Cepeda (Boston)
  • 1974 – Tommy Davis (Baltimore)
  • 1975 – Willie Horton (Detroit)
  • 1976 – Hal McRae (Kansas City)
  • 1977 – Jim Rice (Boston)
  • 1978 – Rusty Staub (Detroit)
  • 1979 – Willie Horton (Seattle)
  • 1980 – Hal McRae (Kansas City)
  • 1981 – Greg Luzinski (Chicago)
  • 1982 – Hal McRae (Kansas City)
  • 1983 – Greg Luzinski (Chicago)
  • 1984 – Dave Kingman (Oakland)
  • 1985 – Don Baylor (New York)
  • 1986 – Don Baylor (Boston)
  • 1987 – Harold Baines (Chicago)
  • 1988 – Harold Baines (Chicago)
  • 1989 – Dave Parker (Oakland)
  • 1990 – Dave Parker (Milwaukee)
  • 1991 – Chili Davis (Minnesota)
  • 1992 – Dave Winfield (Toronto)
  • 1993 – Paul Molitor (Toronto)
  • 1994 – Not awarded
  • 1995 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
  • 1996 – Paul Molitor (Minnesota)
  • 1997 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
  • 1998 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
  • 1999 – Rafael Palmeiro (Texas)
  • 2000 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
  • 2001 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
  • 2002 – Ellis Burks (Cleveland)
  • 2003 – David Ortiz (Boston)
  • 2004 – David Ortiz (Boston)
  • 2005 – David Ortiz (Boston)
  • 2006 – David Ortiz (Boston)
  • 2007 – David Ortiz (Boston)
  • 2008 – Aubrey Huff (Baltimore)
  • 2009 – Adam Lind (Toronto)
  • 2010 – Vladimir Guerrero (Texas)
  • 2011 – David Ortiz (Boston)
  • 2012 – Billy Butler (Kansas City)
  • 2013 – David Ortiz (Boston)
  • 2014 – Victor Martinez (Detroit)
  • 2015 – Kendrys Morales (Kansas City)
  • 2016 – David Ortiz (Boston)