Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz came into 2022 as for many reasons, including his nearly unmatched ability to hit the baseball hard. On Wednesday, he showed off that hard-hit ability off with a thunderous 122.4-mph single in a loss against the Braves (GameTracker). It is the hardest hit ball ever recorded by Statcast, which dates back to 2015.
Here is Cruz's rocket single. He hit it so hard, and the ball ricocheted off the wall so quickly, that Cruz was held to a single.
Statcast says that ball would have left 26 of the 30 MLB ballparks. Only Fenway Park in Boston, Coors Field in Denver, Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, and of course PNC Park in Pittsburgh would have kept it in the yard.
As noted, Cruz's single is the hardest hit ball ever tracked in six-plus years of Statcast. Here are the five hardest:
- Oneil Cruz: 122.4 mph on Aug. 23, 2022
- Giancarlo Stanton: 122.2 mph on Oct. 1, 2017
- Giancarlo Stanton: 122.2 mph on Aug. 9, 2021
- Giancarlo Stanton: 121.7 mph on Aug. 9, 2018
- Giancarlo Stanton: 121.3 mph on July 25, 2020
Stanton owns 19 of the 24 hardest hit balls ever recorded by Statcast. The hardest hit ball by someone other than Cruz and Stanton is a 121.1-mph homer by Aaron Judge on June 10, 2017. Gary Sánchez is the only other player in the Statcast era to hit a ball 120 mph. He had a 121.1-mph line out on June 19, 2018.
Exit velocity isn't everything -- turn on any game any night and you're bound to see a few weakly struck base hits -- but hitting the ball hard is obviously good, and few can hit the ball as hard as Cruz. In fact, it's possible no player in history has ever hit a baseball as hard as Cruz did Wednesday. That was an absolute missile.
The 23-year-old Cruz took a .198/.249/.401 batting line with 10 homers in 52 games into Wednesday.