COMMENTARY | Every season there's at least one player on every team that is wildly out of place on a major-league roster.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have had numerous guys over the last few years that you simply shake your head at in disbelief while questioning why they are occupying one of 25 roster spots. Garret Anderson, Juan Uribe, Todd Coffey, and many others have donned Dodger Blue in the Ned Colletti era while producing little to nothing.
Luis Cruz is the 2013 incarnation of that certainty. He quickly became a fan favorite in 2012 after emerging out of complete anonymity to serviceably fill in at second, short and, mostly, third. He hit .297/.322/.431/.753 with a .326 wOBA (Weighted On-Base Average) and that, combined with excellent defense and average baserunning, led to an fWAR of 2.4.
Cruz was a solid contributor in 2012 and certainly earned a bench role as a super-utility player that could fill in around the diamond. However, the Dodgers went a step further and gave Cruz the starting third base job entering the 2013 campaign. While the club's options were limited, the Dodgers should have seen the warning signs within his 2012 showing and realized that what he had produced -- which wasn't anything great to begin with -- was mostly a facade.
Cruz entered 2012 as a 28-year-old career minor leaguer who couldn't even hit minor-league pitching, posting a slash line of .261/.296/.394/.690 in 12 minor-league seasons and just under 4,900 plate appearances. That's beyond a large enough sample size to see that Cruz can't handle the lumber at any level and this wasn't a case of an "AAAA" player finally finding some success in The Show.
Cruz's small cups of coffee in the bigs with Pittsburgh and Milwaukee didn't produce anything of substance, either. When you only walk 3.5 percent of the time, hit infield popups about 19 percent of the time, and swing at roughly 35 percent of pitches outside of the strike zone (over 40 percent on such pitches in 2012), success is difficult to find and sustain, as I covered in a review of Cruz's 2012 season.
Whether you subscribe to old-school stats or are more sabermetrically inclined, it's painfully obvious that Cruz hasn't earned a major-league roster spot and needs to be in the minors. Baseball is a game of numbers, of scoring more runs than the other team, and getting on base in order to do so -- and it's clear that Cruz is doing less than nothing with the bat this season (.096/.118/.096/.214 with a putrid .092 wOBA, 0 homers, 2 RBIs, a 1.3 BB%, a -0.7 fWAR, and very little hard contact).
Considering Cruz has barely played over the last month and a minor- or major-league track record is non-existent, the Dodgers need to pull the plug on the doomed-to-fail-from-the-outset Luis Cruz Experiment and call up Alex Castellanos or anyone else, really.
When Juan Uribe is a more potent offensive threat than you, you're probably doing everything wrong.
Greg Zakwin is the founder of Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle, a Dodgers' and sports card blog. He writes with an analytical tilt about The Blue Crew at ChadMoriyama.com. You can find and follow him on Twitter @ArgyledPlaschke. A graduate of UCLA in 2011 with a Bachelor's in History, he's been a follower of the Dodgers since birth and still mourns the loss of both Mike Piazza and Carlos Santana.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Luis Cruz
- Juan Uribe