When the Tampa Bay Rays acquired Nelson Cruz at the 2021 trade deadline, they thought they were getting one of the best hitters on the market.

Given Cruz’s production with the Minnesota Twins before the trade, that was a very reasonable expectation.

But unfortunately, the results have not been there for Cruz since putting on a Rays uniform.

He has scuffled with his new club so far, and many fans are getting frustrated with his lack of production.

The Rays are going to need Cruz to turn things around in time for the postseason.

Is that in the cards?

Given Cruz’s Track Record, It’s Surprising To See Him Struggle Like This

Cruz has been one of the best hitters in baseball for a decade and a half.

Age doesn’t seem to matter to the 41-year-old, who was just named to his seventh All-Star team earlier in the season.

The veteran is a career .277 hitter with an OPS of .874 and OPS+ of 133.

He’s a four-time Silver Slugger and six-time MVP vote-getter.

For all of those reasons, it’s alarming that he’s struggling so mightily with the Rays.

He’s slashing just .218/.273/.451 over 35 games with Tampa Bay.

He has accumulated a WAR of just 0.4 with the team.

Now, to his credit, he just had a big day on Monday against the Red Sox.

He went 3-for-6 with a homer, three runs scored, and three runs driven in.

He helped the Rays to a massive come-from-behind victory.

Maybe the big day will get things moving in the right direction for him, but he until he starts producing consistent results with the Rays, fans won’t give him the benefit of the doubt.

Cruz Has An Outstanding Postseason Resume, And The Rays Are Counting On Him To Deliver In October

It’s probably safe to assume that Cruz’s postseason resume was a factor in the Rays’ decision to trade for him.

The slugger has seen his fair share of playoff baseball over the years.

In fact, he has played in a whopping 46 postseason games.

And let’s just say this: He never seems to disappoint when the lights are the brightest.

He’s a career .288 hitter in the playoffs with a stellar 1.019 OPS.

He has homered 17 times, doubled 12 times, and driven in 37 runs.

He even has an ALCS MVP award under his belt.

But with all of that said, Cruz is still chasing the first World Series title of his career.

That’s certainly something that he’d like to accomplish before he calls it quits on his playing days.

Tampa Bay is in a great position to make a deep playoff run this season, and this might be Cruz’s best shot at winning a championship.

If he wants a ring, he’s going to have to rise to the occasion (like he has so many times before) and do some damage at the plate.

This will be an interesting storyline to monitor when October gets here.

Wrap-Up

Cruz’s future is uncertain.

He’s a free agent after the season, and although he’s sure to garner some interest, there are no guarantees that he’ll land with a contending team.

Every player wants to win a championship before retiring, and Cruz has a chance to get the job done with an outstanding Rays team this season.

Let’s see if he can get things going over the final month of the regular season and carry a little hot streak into the playoffs.

This article first appeared on The Cold Wire and was syndicated with permission.

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