St. Louis Cardinals: Tyler O’Neill should return straight to left field

ST LOUIS, MO - APRIL 08: Tyler O'Neill #27 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a one run single during the seventh inning of the home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on April 8, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - APRIL 08: Tyler O'Neill #27 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a one run single during the seventh inning of the home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on April 8, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images) /
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Tyler O’Neill’s glove is needed and his bat could help too. When he’s activated, the St. Louis Cardinals should plug him right back into left field.

The St. Louis Cardinals’ outfield has been a weak point this season outside of the stellar start from rookie Dylan Carlson. 18 games into the year, there still hasn’t been a single game where the team has had their “projected” full outfield lineup.

Harrison Bader hasn’t seen the field and won’t for another week or so and 10 games ago, Tyler O’Neill tweaked his groin leaving the batter’s box. With both of these two out, fans saw Austin Dean and Just Williams get more playing time in the corners as well as Tommy Edman in right field.

While having Edman in right with Matt Carpenter at second base isn’t horrible, Carpenter’s bad luck has caused fans to sour on the lefty. Whether Carpenter is in the lineup with Edman in right or both Dean and Williams are in the corners, neither are as good as a lineup with Tyler O’Neill in left.

In the first eight games of the season, O’Neill didn’t look that great. He’s batting just .143 on the year with one homer, but it was also only a little more than a week of games. While he may still be figuring things out at the plate, his defense in left is far superior to Dean’s which is a deciding factor.

The Cardinals are a run-prevention team but haven’t been great defensively. If they aren’t going to score runs and they aren’t going to prevent them, it’s going to be a rough year.

On Friday, O’Neill will make his return to the active roster and should be a plug-and-play start at left field. Of the outfielders currently healthy, O’Neill has the most potential outside of Carlson and in the time when he was out, Dean, Williams, and Carpenter didn’t do enough to not let O’Neill take his spot back.

I don’t have a strong opinion on whether Williams/Dean should be in right or if Mike Shildt wants to play Edman out there to see if Carpenter’s luck will turn at the plate with him playing second. Until Bader returns, the Cardinals won’t be at their defensive best. Carlson has done well, but outside of him nobody has stepped up in their opportunities to claim an outfield spot just yet.

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O’Neill’s leash is getting shorter as the Cardinals continue to perform worse, but his defense and potential for power should be an easy choice to return to the lineup.