Christopher John Cron Jr.
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 235 lb.
- School University of Utah
- High School Mountain Pointe High School
- Debut May 3, 2014
C.J. was originally selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 44th round of the 2008 amateur draft. He opted to attend college and was an All-American in 2010 with the Utah Utes. He was later chosen by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with the 17th overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft. He signed with scout John Gracio on June 28th, the club not extremely concerned by an MRI which revealed a labral tear in his right shoulder. He was sent to the Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League to begin his career, spending each of the next three seasons in the minors.
After beginning the 2014 season with Triple A Salt Lake, Cron debuted with the big boys on May 3, going 3-for-5 with two RBI against the Texas Rangers. He hit his first big league homer against J.A. Happ of the Toronto Blue Jays on May 10, part of a 2-for-4 day that brought his early batting line to .417/.440/.667. He played 79 games in his rookie season and cooled down to hit .256/.289/.450 (111 OPS+) with 11 homers and 37 RBI. In the postseason, he went 1-for-9 with a double as the Angels were swept by the Kansas City Royals in the Division Series. In 2015, some of his numbers improved, with a .262/.300/.439 line (106 OPS+), 16 homers and 51 RBI in 113 games, split between two stints back at Triple A. Cron and Carlos Perez formed a two-men wrecking crew when the Angels demolished the Boston Red Sox, 21-2, on July 2, 2016. Perez went 5 for 6 with a homer and 6 RBI while C.J. was 6-for-6 with two homers and 5 RBI. They were the first pair of teammates to have at least 5 hits and RBI each since Gene Moore and Buck Jordan had done so for the 1936 Boston Bees. Cron played 116 games, hitting .278/.325/.467 with 16 homers and 69 RBI. He slumped a bit in 2017 to .248/.305/.437 with 16 homers and 56 RBI in 100 games.
With the signing of Shohei Ohtani, Cron was the odd man out after the 2017 season. On February 17, 2018, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for a player to be named later (Luis Rengifo) and immediately installed as starting first baseman. He had his most powerful season to date, hitting .253/.323/.493 in 140 games with 30 homers, 28 doubles and 74 RBI. His OPS+ was an excellent 123, and he was a big reason the Rays exceeded all expectations and won 90 games, even if most reporting focused on their unconventional use of starting pitchers. He became eligible for salary arbitration after the season and was in line for a big raise, which defeated the purpose of the Rays having acquired him, as they were seeking low-cost production. So he was placed on waivers and claimed on November 25th by the Minnesota Twins. Cron had a solid season for the Twins in 2019 as their starting first baseman, hitting .253/.311/.469 in 125 games with 25 homers and 78 RBI as the Twins won over 100 games and set an all-time record for homers hit. He went 1-for-5 in the Division Series, in which the Twins were swept by the New York Yankees, then became a free agent on December 2nd when Minnesota declined to offer him arbitration. On December 21, he signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Tigers for $6.1 million.
He had a very brief season in 2020, which was the year when the Coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc with the schedule. He played just 13 games, but showed plenty of power, slugging 3 doubles and 4 homers in that brief stint, scoring 9 runs and driving in 8. Thus, in spite of a batting average of .190, his OPS+ was a sparkling 142 - albeit in a tiny sample size. The Tigers weren't apparently interested in finding out whether this would translate over a full season, so they did not re-sign him and in February of 2021, he joined the Colorado Rockies on another one-year deal. He was given the starting first base job and made the most of it, hitting for good power and drawing more walks than he ever had. On August 16th, he hit a walk-off homer against Daniel Hudson of the San Diego Padres to give Colorado a 6-5 win. What was interesting was that it was the 11th walk-off hit for an otherwise mediocre Rockies team, setting a new team record, and also leading the majors at that point. He continued to hit all month, finishing August at .387 with 11 homers, 34 RBIs and 77 total bases to earn National League Player of the Month honors.
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 3 (2018, 2019 & 2021)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2018)