Reds vs Twins: Three games in Minnesota will determine playoff berth

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 29: Tucker Barnhart #16 of the Cincinnati Reds slides into second unsuccessfully while Ehire Adrianza #16 of the Minnesota Twins trans the double play in the first inning at Target Field on April 29, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 29: Tucker Barnhart #16 of the Cincinnati Reds slides into second unsuccessfully while Ehire Adrianza #16 of the Minnesota Twins trans the double play in the first inning at Target Field on April 29, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /
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Nelson Cruz #42 of the Minnesota Twins during an at-bat
DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 30: Nelson Cruz #42 of the Minnesota Twins during an at-bat. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

Nelson Cruz shows no signs of slowing down.

A 40-year-old should not be competing for the MVP award, however, it’s safe to say Nelson Cruz never received the memo. Beginning play today, the right-hander slugger leads the AL with a 178 OPS+ and 1.026 OPS marks. In addition to a slash line of .314/.403/.623, it’s debatable that Cruz is better than ever.

These numbers are nothing new for Nelson Cruz. Just last year, Cruz put together numbers that earned him his third Silver Slugger Award and a ninth-place finish in the MVP balloting. Producing a slash line of .311/.392/.639 with 41 homers and 108 RBIs, he made quite a first impression in the Twin Cities.

The six-time All-Star is picking up right where he left last year. Not only is he providing his usual power numbers, but his 2.0 fWAR leads all American League designated hitters and is good enough for eighth overall in the junior circuit. Cruz has led American League designated hitters in fWAR two of the last three years and seems destined to make it three of four.

Since 2014, Cruz has hit at least 37 home runs in each season and his 16 round-trippers throughout the shortened 2020 campaign are good enough for a tie for fourth in the junior circuit. Since making his debut in 2005, only Albery Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion have hit more than the 417 missiles that Cruz has launched.

Let’s hope for the Reds and Trevor Bauer’s sake it’s not a win or go home situation Sunday because Nelson Cruz has owned the Cincinnati right-hander. Facing each other 20 times, Cruz has compiled a .467/.600/.800 slash line. In other words, the Cincinnati needs to take care of business as soon as possible and not give the Twins slugger the opportunity to end their season.