St. Louis Cardinals: Tyler O’Neill just needs a chance
By Matt Graves
With all the potential in the world, St. Louis Cardinals slugger Tyler O’Neill just needs to be given an extended look and a manager’s confidence to show off his tools.
Sometimes people just need a chance. St. Louis Cardinals‘ outfielder Tyler O’Neill has never been given an extended look at any of the three outfield spots at the major league level outside of Spring Training this year.
What did he do in Spring? He put up a .860 OPS and led the team in homers in a ballpark that is not at all friendly to hitters. O’Neill has shown at every level of the minor leagues that he can hit, he can slug, he can catch, and he can run. So why are people calling that the Marco Gonzales trade was a loss because Gonzales is doing well in Seattle? It’s because we haven’t gotten to see O’Neill every day.
First off, let’s wait on any judgment of the Gonzales trade because O’Neill is still 23 years old and Gonzales is 27. We need more time. But still, the trade doesn’t look good now. O’Neill has put up just a 1.3 WAR for the Cardinals in his two years of MLB appearances, but that is not a fair shake for O’Neill at all.
Recently, Michael Galloway wrote that O’Neill is an AAAA player because he hasn’t been able to produce consistently at the MLB level. I disagree wholeheartedly because of the same reason I disagree with those calling the trade to acquire him a loss. All he needs is a chance.
Making the team as the 4th outfielder out of Jupiter, O’Neill quickly became glued to the bench and rarely received playing time because of the revival of Dexter Fowler. It’s not necessarily a bad thing as the current four outfielders the Cardinals keep on their 25-man roster (Harrison Bader, Jose Martinez, Dexter Fowler, Marcell Ozuna) have barely been able to share the playing time well enough and it became clear that O’Neill was the odd man out.
More from St Louis Cardinals News
- Cardinals Rumors: 3 pros and cons of signing Carlos Rodon
- Cardinals: Here is Willson Contreras’ first message for St. Louis fans
- How do the St. Louis Cardinals stack up with Willson Contreras?
- Cardinals: The insane asking price the Athletics had for Sean Murphy
- St. Louis Cardinals: Ask me anything with Josh Jacobs – 12/8
At the beginning of May, he was sent back to AAA Memphis where he has received consistent playing time. At the time, I wrote that this was the best move for him and I stand by that. What has he done? Eight homers, 14 RBI’s, .254 batting average and a .933 OPS. All these numbers have been in just 17 games and while the batting average isn’t great, it’s what his career numbers have been and the power supports his value.
Tyler O’Neill needs to have the same treatment that Kolten Wong was given. For years, Wong talked about how all he needed was the confidence of the manager and a chance to be told, “you’re the guy.” Since Mike Shildt has taken the helm and given Wong this backing, he has played a lot better (mostly in the field) and while his bat lacks at times, watching the games shows how much confidence he’s playing with because of the backing he’s gotten.
O’Neill won’t get the playing time he needs in 2019 unless there is a trade or lot’s of injuries, but when Marcell Ozuna likely walks after this year, I believe O’Neill will do great if he gets a chance to be the starting left fielder for an extended opportunity.
Again, at the age of 23, O’Neill can afford to play in Memphis for this year. He doesn’t have much left to prove there, but consistent playing time won’t do him any harm at any level, but sitting on the bench for 6 days a week will even if it’s at the MLB level.