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Nelson Cruz hits MLB-leading 40th home run

Baltimore Orioles slugger Nelson Cruz hit his 40th home run of the season on Tuesday night in New York, the first major leaguer to reach 40 home runs this season.

Mike Stobe

For a second straight season the Baltimore Orioles have the major league leader in home runs. This year, Nelson Cruz is atop the heap and hit his 40th home run of the season on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, against New York Yankees right-hander Brandon McCarthy in the fifth inning.

Cruz, 33, declined a qualifying offer from the Texas Rangers last winter of one year, $14.1 million as a pending free agent. He then saw his demand plummet, with the cost of a first-round draft pick attached with his signing. Cruz ultimately settled on a one-year, $8 million contract with Baltimore, signing after spring training began.

He has career highs with 40 home runs and 107 RBI in 155 games for the Orioles this season. Cruz is hitting .269/.334/.529 and has the second-highest OPS+ (140) of his career, helping the Orioles to their second playoff appearance in three seasons and their first division title in 17 years.

Chris Davis of the Orioles led the majors in 2013 with 53 home runs.