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Nutshell: Oneil Cruz is From Another Dimension

Oneil Cruz hit a baseball 122.4 MPH yesterday.

In case you missed it, Pittsburgh's Oneil Cruz broke the Statcast record for hardest hit ball ever. He turned on a Kyle Wright offering and sent it hurtling through space and time at a whopping 122.4 MPH. It caromed off the right field wall at PNC Park in about half a second. It looked like he was playing racquetball. What is now arguably the hardest hit ball in the history of baseball, assuming you believe players nowadays hit it harder than their predecessors, resulted in just a single for Cruz; Ronald Acuña Jr. collected it and fired to the cutoff man before Cruz could even round first base.

An absurd display of power. If you haven't appreciated Oneil Cruz this season, he does crazy shit like this all the time.

The Perfect Storm

Seemingly every part of Cruz's game is something we haven't seen before. Not only is he the Statcast king when it comes to exit velocity, he also has the fastest throw by an infielder ever recorded, at 97.8 MPH. He accomplished that feat to nab Luke Williams of the Marlins on a groundball to shortstop. Mind you, this was done with a little sidearm flick across the diamond. Imagine the speeds he could reach if he put everything he had into a throw.

Oh, and he scoots. He's gotten up to 31.5 feet/second on a run around the bases. For context, that's faster than the top sprint speed of Tyreek Hill during the 2021 NFL season. I repeat...TYREEK HILL. Cruz is currently the 8th faster player in MLB, based on average speed on competitive runs. He's a burner.

He's also a giant. Quite literally the largest shortstop of all time. Cruz is 6'7" and weighs 220 pounds. Never has there been a more imposing figure playing shortstop in the Major Leagues. Oneil Cruz is 1-of-1.

All of these achievements would be impressive if they were accomplished by separate human beings. Oneil Cruz has his name stamped on all of them at once in just 54 career MLB games.

But baseball is funny.

He's Been Bad

Despite all of his physical accomplishments, Oneil Cruz is far from being an elite MLB player. Such is the nature of baseball; you can be the biggest, strongest, fastest man on the planet and still suck something awful. Thus far, he strikes out too much (83 K in 205 PA), isn't great defensively (11th percentile Outs Above Average), and isn't an efficient base stealer (60% success rate). Physically, he seems to be the next step in human evolution, but skill is the most important tool to have on the baseball diamond. That's what the 23-year-old Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop still needs to develop against the best of the best.

I think he will, though. And when he does, look out. Oneil Cruz will become a devourer of worlds.

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