At this time last December, the Twins didn’t have an everyday designated hitter on their roster. So they signed the best one in the game.
Nelson Cruz in 2019 was the leading home run hitter on the game’s greatest home-run hitting team, helping the Twins win their first AL Central title since 2010. And on Monday, in a vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America, he was named the winner of the Edgar Martinez Award as the major league’s best designated hitter, for the second time in three years.
Cruz, whose 41 homers in 120 games made him just the third Minnesota player ever to eclipse 40 home runs, was also voted the award, named for the Mariners’ Hall of Fame, in 2017 while with Seattle. The longtime slugger, who turned 39 in July, signed a two-year contract with the Twins last January.
Despite battling a wrist injury that cost him nearly a month’s worth of games, Cruz easily surpassed 35 home runs for the sixth consecutive season, and in late September reached 400 home runs for his career. Cruz’s .639 slugging percentage, the highest in Twins’ history, ranked third in the major leagues, and his 1.031 OPS trailed only Jim Thome’s 1.039 in 2010 for the best by a Twin (minimum 100 games).
Cruz is the third Twin ever to earn the honor as best designated hitter. Chili Davis was named best DH in 1991, and in 1996, Paul Molitor claimed the award, which was renamed for Martinez in 2004.