Oneil Cruz is starting to show a promising future

Neil Cruz is an anomaly. atypical. Unicorn baseball. A talent that cannot be missed.

Regardless of the category, it checks nearly every box.

On a team lacking in blissful sunshine and a rainbow ambiance, Cruz has brought a presence to the Pirates lineup — outside of Bryan Reynolds — that hasn’t been felt in years.

You know the stories you hear from your grandparents and other old pirate followers about how fans survived about Forbes Field beyond the final Ralph Keener just to see if he hits home?

Cruz provided that kind of sentiment when watching him play in September.

He is best at maximum exit velocity, the percentile, and is at the top of the sprint speed charts, hitting the 98th percentile.

The short 23-year-old has a 1.6 WAR and hits .221 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI; Only after Reynolds in both the latter categories.

Cruz has seen a story of two halves since his promotion from Triple-A Indianapolis in mid-June.

He started hot on the board, scoring seven runs in his first four games. However, putting the ball into play was crippled by Cruz’s injury for most of 2022, as his hitting rate continued to decline each month prior to September.

Cruz hit .214 in June, .202 in July, and .195 in August, resulting in a total of 87 hits.

Compared to September, Cruz cut 0.284/.304/.657. He made it safely in 11 of 16 competitions this month including six multi-stroke games, six home runs and 16 RBI.

The 6-foot-7 mansion will benefit in 2023 from Major League Baseball’s ban. He has a .296 wOBA against turning, but has a .33 mark against a defensive straight position.

A polarizing figure who receives national attention on a regular basis, Cruz along with Rodolfo Castro, lead the Buccaneers with the long ball and bring the faltering attack back from the dead.

The truth is that he will hit. Pittsburgh tied for MLB record with 20 punches on Sunday against New York Metstwo of Cruz, who also provided the Bucs’ only three-stroke homer record from Jacob DeGrom’s best shooters in the game.

Would it be ideal for the left racket to limit his chases and be more patient on the plate? clearly. But at the same time, the level of his production is off the charts.

Compared to Reynolds, Cruz has six fewer players and just three fewer RBIs by 57 games less.

Peaks and valleys are common throughout the MLB season. Cruz is currently at its peak. The pinnacle of his career, marked in the first few months was not sky-high, but a hot streak of accumulating his best rackets.

The game seems too easy for Cruz. Yes, his defense needs work, 12 shortstop fouls. Yes, he needs to lower the strike rate, if at all possible. Yes, he should be a smarter key player. But when you look at the cup from the opposite end of the half-empty cup mentality, you can survive in the desert heat.

If Cruz can sustain spikes like this – he might have an Aaron Judge season all year long – the Buccaneers can take on anyone in an offensive manner.

No one will put too much emphasis on Cruz hitting the ball harder than anyone else, throwing it to a base as fast as they can, or even throwing his racket as fast as any player out there.

Surrounding Cruz with protection in the squad will be equally important to his continued development.

Keeping Cruz in Majors rather than demoting him to minors during his mid-August slump, reaching as low as .196, paid dividends in his improvement and development.

The Buccaneers’ focus is already 2023, and Cruz puts the team and the league in the know for what might come from one of baseball’s most formidable players.

In a year full of doom and gloom and perhaps another 100-loss season, it’s easy to give up the last few weeks and turn attention to other sports and events. For the next two weeks, don’t completely stray from the pirates just yet.

It won’t be easy by any means, but Cruz’s control is activated and primed for the promise of power and possibility for better days to come.