StaTuesday: New member of 400-homer club, 39-year-old Cruz keeps producing
In the 144 years of Major League Baseball, there have been 19,363 players to put on a uniform and appear in a game.
On Sunday afternoon, Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz did something only .003% of MLB ballplayers have done: hit 400 career home runs. A solo blast in the fourth inning of Minnesota’s 12-8 win over Kansas City punched Cruz’s ticket into the exclusive club.
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) September 22, 2019
It was only fitting that he’d hit homer No. 400 in a Minnesota uniform. Playing for Texas at age 25, Cruz smacked his first career homer July 31, 2006, off Twins pitcher Willie Eyre.
Cruz became the 57th player to reach 400 career dingers, surpassing five-time All-Star first baseman Andres Galarraga and Hall of Famer Al Kaline on the all-time leaderboard in the process.
ALL-TIME HOME RUN LEADERS
More impressive than his career total is the amount he’s contributing to his bomba counter at the ripe age of 39. Cruz’s path to 400 hasn’t been like Duke Snider, who hit a combined 23 homers over his last three seasons. It’s been the opposite.
Cruz has notched his fourth career season of 40+ homers in his debut season in Minnesota while hitting .303 and posting his best on-base percentage (.387) since 2008. He’s surpassed 29 players on the all-time home run list this season alone, ranging from players like Joe DiMaggio to Ryan Howard to Joe Carter.
Cruz is one of three players to mash 40+ homers in a season while playing at age 39 or older, joining an even more exclusive list: Barry Bonds did it twice in 2003 and 2004 and Hank Aaron reached the milestone in 1973. Darrell Evans clobbered 40 (a career high) when he was 38, but managed only 29 the next season at age 39. That’s right — only Cruz and the two names atop of the all-time home run list are the only players to do it.
One note: this is technically Cruz’s age-38 season. MLB defines a player’s baseball age based on how old he is entering July 1 in a given season. Cruz, however, turned 39 on July 1.
HOME RUN LEADERS (AGE 39+)
|Barry Bonds, SF||2004||39||147||45||.362||.609||.812|
|Barry Bonds, SF||2003||38*||130||45||.341||.529||.749|
|Nelson Cruz, MIN||2019||38*||116||40||.303||.387||.631|
|Hank Aaron, ATL||1973||39||120||40||.301||.402||.643|
|David Ortiz, BOS||2016||40||151||38||.315||.401||.620|
|Rafael Palmeiro, TEX||2003||38*||154||38||.260||.359||.508|
|Ted Williams, BOS||1957||38*||132||38||.388||.526||.731|
|David Ortiz, BOS||2015||39||146||37||.273||.360||.553|
|Steve Finley, ARI/LAD||2004||39||162||36||.271||.333||.490|
* turned 39 during the season
Towards the end of spring training, Cruz told Twins director of public relations Dustin Morse that he planned on hitting his 400th homer this season. He also told Morse to cancel any plans for October — there would be playoff baseball at Target Field.
A perfect two for two.