(BaseballStL) -- The Texas Rangers are a dangerous team, that’s nothing new, they’re in the World Series for a reason. One of the main reasons they’re in the 2011 Fall Classic is because of their number six hitter in game one, right-fielder Nelson Cruz. Cardinals’ fan should be familiar with Cruz after he put on a show during the 2009 Homerun Derby here in St. Louis. In the American League Championship Series Cruz proved why he’s an All-Star outfielder. He hit an astounding .364 with six homeruns and 13 R.B.I, thus winning ALCS MVP honors. The question is then, what can the Cardinals do with Cruz to keep from committing World Series suicide? The answer is stay away from the fastball and stay on the outside of the plate.
Good hitters, like Cruz, will always find ways to get base hits but the numbers on Cruz are pretty amazing and could definitely benefit the Cardinals. Let’s start with the fastball. In the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Ray, Cruz, in 15 at-bats, saw eight fastballs and hit .067 (1 for 15). Then, in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers Cruz saw, in 22 at-bats, 33 fastballs and hit .364 (8 for 22). Six of his eight hits were homeruns and five of the six homeruns were fastballs, one at 100 mph. Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander gave up three homeruns against Cruz in the ALCS and said this on the last one, “Tried to sneak one by him and he was ready for it. That’s in the air, it’s, ‘Please go foul. Please go foul. I’m such an idiot, please go foul.’ It didn’t.”
In real estate it’s all about location, location, location and it’s the exact same for Cruz. According to STATS LLC. in the regular season Cruz hit .489 when the pitch was inside and middle-up and hit .412 on pitches that were inside and low. When the pitch was outside and middle-up Cruz only hit .194.
Can you say that Cruz won’t hit anything but a fastball or a pitch inside? No, of course you can’t, he’s still a Major League hitter and went 1 for 3 in game one. The Cardinals just have to watch how they pitch to him. Cruz, like the entire Rangers lineup, is extremely dangerous but if the Cardinals do their homework and can keep the Rangers, especially Cruz, off their game; they could be looking at a lot of success and a possible World Championship.
by Mike Swallow, BaseballStL