Hey, did you know Oneil Cruz was tall?
Like really tall?
Well, sports media has found out, and everyone’s got his/her own take on this really tall guy, mainly along the lines of “Is Oneil Cruz Too Tall to Play Shortstop?”
Because I am getting old, I was reminded of a twenty-year-old GQ article (and cover) with the then-three top shortstops in MLB—Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Nomar Garciaparra. At the time, a big deal was made over Jeter and A-Rod. Not only because they were good because they were, but because they were tall. Both of them are six feet, three inches. At six feet, Garciaparra was the runt.
Go back a generation before that, and you had six-feet-four-inch shortstop Cal Ripken Jr, who was also considered freakishly tall for a shortstop.
Now? Tall shortstops are practically the norm. Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres is six-four. So are the Dodgers’ Corey Seager and the Astros’ Carlos Correa. There are a few more who are six-three. Hell, Cole Tucker is six-three. Nick Gonzales and Kevin Newman are a little more human-sized at five-ten and six feet respectively.
Yet we see the words “tall” and “shortstop” in combination and say “nope.”
Why couldn’t Oneil Cruz be a six-seven shortstop?
Mainly because of Newman, Gonzales, Tucker, and Liover Peguero, who have all been pegged as either the shortstop of now or the shortstop of later. Newman’s good at getting on base, but not keeping guys off it. With the length of time that Adam Frazier’s name has been out there as trade bait, Newman moving to second is a possibility with Tucker at short. I know this fills many of you with trepidation. Cruz is getting “he’s too tall” and not the truth, which is “really, we’re good on shortstops.”
Ben Cherington is swearing, however, that Cruz will remain a shortstop. If Newman and/or Tucker show signs of sucking, I can see Cruz getting pulled out of Indianapolis. Maybe he even gets in ahead of Tucker, who knows. It’s spring training, let’s go crazy.
And also, Oneil Cruz is tall.