With just a little over three weeks until Opening Day for the 2014 Baltimore Orioles, Buck Showalter is going to have to make a decision on where to place newly acquired players, like David Lough and Nelson Cruz, in the batting order. When it comes to Cruz, it is easy as “1…2…3…”
Joining the ball club two weeks ago, Cruz is coming to Baltimore known for his power at the plate. In the previous five seasons, Cruz has hit at least 22 round-trippers each season.
Despite his previous situation with being suspended 50 games last season for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, Cruz still has the capability of being a 20+ home run hitter each season. Showalter will consider his capability to drive the ball deep when deciding where to place Cruz in the order.
When I first heard about Cruz signing with the Orioles, I thought he could be placed at the lower end of the lineup to round out the batting order with some consistent power. I watched the Orioles Spring Training game on Saturday against the Red Sox; it became evident rather quickly where he belonged.
If Cruz is placed in the order right after Davis, American League pitchers would “shake in their cleats” when they picked up the lineup card. During the 2013 season, the three combined for 463 hits, 113 home runs and 322 RBIs.
The last time the Baltimore Orioles had that much power batting back-to-back-to-back was in the 1960s and early 1970s with Frank, Brooks and Boog. And the results of those three batting consecutively worked out pretty well: four American League pennants and two World Series titles.
Also, do not forget the Orioles have Matt Wieters; who could find himself batting right after Cruz which would just add fuel to the fire that is the Orioles offense this season.
The Orioles are trying to win now. Showalter and Duquette believe they have the keys to a championship baseball team. And if these three power hitters are put together in the lineup, expect Jim Hunter of MASN to be saying many times this season, “Hello Eutaw Street!!!”