Nelson Cruz climbs leaderboard for postseason HR, OPS with towering catwalk blast
Randy Arozarena may be the biggest star of the postseason, picking up where he left off after his incredible 2020 playoff performance with a home run and a stolen base — of home plate — in Game 1 between the Rays and the Red Sox. But don't let that blind you from what one of his teammates accomplished.
If you watched the game, you probably weren't blinded enough by Arozarena to take note of the towering, if bizarre, blast that 41-year-old Nelson Cruz hit in the bottom of the third inning. Thanks to Tropicana Field, the long ball hit off a catwalk and was ruled a home run based on the rules of which catwalks are deemed high/far enough for a homer. Needless to say, Red Sox fans were more than a little peeved, though that home run wasn't the reason they lost the game.
Instead of complaining about catwalk-gate, let's consider just how cool this feat was for Cruz. It was his 18th postseason home run in his long career, which moved him into the top nine all-time. Here's that full list:
1. Manny Ramirez - 29
2. Bernie Williams - 22
3. Derek Jeter - 20
4. Albert Pujols - 19
4. George Springer - 19
6. Reggie Jackson - 18
6. Jose Altuve - 18
6. Mickey Mantle - 18
6. Nelson Cruz - 18
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Of all those players, Cruz is the only one with fewer than 250 plate appearances, and it's very likely that he'll continue to climb that list. As Ryan Spaeder noted, the veteran slugger also joined exclusive company atop the postseason OPS leaderboard.
Overall, Cruz's postseason stat line is an impressive one: 18 HR, 38 RBI and 34 runs scored in 47 games (193 plate appearances) for a slash line of .287/.358/.667. Expanded out to a hypothetical 162-game season, those totals would project to be 62 home runs, 131 RBI and 117 runs. Talk about elevating your game when it matters most!
We'll see how much further he can climb and if any records become within reach as the postseason progresses.