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Elly De La Cruz and Oneil Cruz are must-see TV

If you’ve been scouring the baseball world for games to watch, you have a pretty good idea of ​​how tonight’s games will play out. If your favorite team is doing well, you’ll probably watch them first. Otherwise, if you’re looking to catch a baseball game over the next few days that doesn’t involve your favorite team, you should keep an eye on what’s happening in Cincinnati this week.

At first glance, a matchup between two teams with 37-41 records in baseball’s most mediocre division doesn’t seem like anything special. Cincinnati Reds Since 2010, they have only made four postseason appearances and won just two games total in those appearances. Pittsburgh Pirates After three consecutive championships from 2013-2015 and only two playoff wins in that time, there’s very little reason to pay attention to these two clubs, and they’re not really giving anyone a reason to pay attention to them at all. sometimes Looks crazy Brawl.

That changes this week, because now you have two great reasons to tune in to the series: Ellie de la Cruz and O’Neill Cruz. One of the things I love about baseball is that, despite how mundane the sport is, if you watch it on TV or go to the ballpark, there’s always a chance you’ll see something you’ve never seen before. This is true at any game, but especially true if either de la Cruz or Cruz is in the game. And with both players playing on the same field for at least two and a half hours over the next few nights, that chance increases even more.

While Ellie’s baseball exploits have been covered extensively here at SB Nation, it’s no wonder that O’Neil Cruz’s exploits tend to get forgotten when it comes to the Pirates. After all, Bryan Reynolds is still the face of the Pirates, Andrew McCutchen is back in the only uniform he looks perfect in (except maybe the Phillies uniform), and Paul Skenes has burst onto the MLB scene and quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the mound. It hasn’t translated into the Pirates winning games on a regular basis, but following the Pirates these days hasn’t been boring.

But O’Neill Cruz is definitely worth watching, because his highlight reel is sometimes incredible. He currently holds the MLB record for fastest pitch in the Statcast era at 122.4 mph, and held the record for fastest pitch by an infielder in the Statcast era, including a 97.8 mph laser as a rookie in 2022. Arm strength He’s in the 99th percentile. His bat speed is in the 100th percentile, which of course translates to a surprisingly high average exit velocity, an equally high barrel rate, and a similarly high hard-hit rate. He’s not quick enough to match up with the true burners, but his 87th percentile sprint speed would suggest he could sprint down the basepaths if needed.

Cruz is still putting all of these facets together to become a truly great baseball player, but his potential is clear for all to see. It’s very hard to pinpoint a player with a higher potential than Cruz, which is one of the reasons Pirates fans aren’t excited about any progress he makes. If O’Neill Cruz is able to one day reach his full potential, it will be akin to a fully-maximized create-a-player feature in a video game becoming reality.

Millions of baseball fans have dreamed of being a force of nature that can run like the wind, throw faster than some pitchers and hit home runs nearly 500 feet. He leaves a mark on everything he hits. The difference between an aspiring video gamer and O’Neal Crews is that he has a real, tangible chance of actually achieving what most fans consider a digital pipe dream.

If there’s one player with a ceiling higher than the Empire State Building, there’s Ellie de la Cruz. There’s debate as to whether O’Neill Cruz is the top star for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but there’s no debate about the situation in Cincinnati. Ellie de la Cruz is of The guy there is incredible. Whether you’re talking fame, highlights, or production, Ellie has it all in spades.

As I mentioned in the link to the other article on Elly De La Cruz above, the guy looks like a highlight reel with just a passing consciousness: Want a tape measure sized home run? He has it. Want the Web Gems that would have made him a staple on Baseball Tonight? He has it too. Want to see him destroy the basepaths? He has you involved in it too. Would you like to see him do everything in the process to terrorize the Dodgers? It’s interesting you ask. There’s even a video to prove it.

What makes it so fun to watch Ellie de la Cruz perform on a nightly basis is that it was clear from the moment he entered the major leagues that he had the ability to be this type of player. But it was also clear that, just like O’Neil Cruz is now, he still needed to put it all together. At the end of the day, you can do a lot of great things on the field, but it doesn’t really matter when you’re hitting .235/.300/.410 with a .305 wOBA and a wRC+ of 89 (which he finishes with in 2023 after 98 games). Heading into the June 25 game, de la Cruz is currently hitting .249/.342/.464 with a .352 wOBA and a 123 wRC+. Even when he’s not performing spectacularly, de la Cruz is in good form, and his team-leading fWAR of 3.3 is proof that he’s not sacrificing other areas to improve in other ways.

He continues to boast an incredible stolen base rate. He’s already surpassed last season’s 35 steals and is now at 37, but it remains to be seen how far that number can go. His defense has also improved and he’s no longer relying solely on his incredible arm strength. He’s currently in the 95th percentile among position players with an OAA of 6. He’s steadily turning into a complete baseball player that should excite both Reds fans who could be rebuilding their team in Cincinnati, and us non-fans. He can do some really stupid things. He is Hitting, Fielding or Base running. What was once thought impossible, Another Day at the Ballpark For Ellie de la Cruz.

Ellie de la Cruz and O’Neil Cruz may not be miracle workers who will lead their respective teams to the promised land, but they both do more than their share of work to make their respective teams fun to watch. O’Neil Cruz is still showing glimpses of his potential, while Ellie de la Cruz is starting to fully blossom into a bona fide superstar in baseball. The two will be on the same field this week when the Pirates and Reds meet in Cincinnati. While these two teams may not be on the radar, these two players definitely are.