2023 MLB Fantasy: Which Shortstops Can You Target with Oneil Cruz Out?

Oneil Cruz of the Pittsburgh Pirates | Image via Getty

The upstart Pirates won six of its first nine games to begin the season, but Pittsburgh will be without shortstop Oneil Cruz for an extended period of time. Cruz fractured his ankle on April 9, assuring that he’ll be on the IL for the next few weeks. With Cruz out, let’s take a look at which players you should look to target as replacements.

Related: 2023 MLB Fantasy: Should You Cut Bait with Marlins SP Edward Cabrera?

A Look at Cruz

Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz started 2023 off with a bang, when the 24-year-old recorded two hits and his first home run of the season on Opening Day against the Reds. That home run is the only one Cruz has to date, as the young shortstop has only hit .233 with one extra base since March 30.

The 24-year-old has been well-known for striking out, but he’s actually seen a fair drop in K% and Whiff% to begin the 2023 season. That shouldn’t be too much of a shock, given how many pitches Cruz has seen out of the zone thus far. Cruz saw 86 pitches out of the strike zone between March 30-April 7, good for 30th in all of baseball. That amount of pitches has meant less opportunity for him to drive the ball.

Over his first 40 plate appearances, Cruz hit .250/.375/.375 with three steals and four runs batted. But, it’s going to be a while before fantasy owners and the Pirates get to see more out of the phenom. Cruz fractured his ankle sliding into home base after he slid into White Sox catcher Seby Zavala at a play at the plate. The injury and subsequent aftermath led to a brawl that cleared both the White Sox and Pirates’ dugouts.

It’s a tough blow for the Pirates, especially since Pittsburgh opened up the year 6-3 thanks to the hot start from Bryan Reynolds, as well as contributions from Carlos Santana and pitchers Mitch Keller and Roansy Contreras.

Potential Replacement Targets

If Cruz was your starting shortstop, it could be tough to find a replacement. However, there are a number of players owned in less than 50% of Yahoo! leagues that could help out in the interim.

Arguably the most notable players that should be on the market is Phillies SS Bryson Stott. Stott, who’s owned in 46% of Yahoo! leagues, went 2-4 for Philadelphia on April 9 to raise his batting average to .429. While he hasn’t hit for much power, Stott has been a good source for base hits thus far and the pop should come.

Other interesting options include Orlando Arcia, Luis Rengifo, and Jon Berti. Arcia has done well thus far as the starting shortstop for the Braves, while Rengifo did serve as an underrated source for power in 2022.

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