The St. Louis Cardinals need Tyler O’Neill to breakout, and fast

Tyler O’Neill’s early season slump has been a major reason why the St. Louis Cardinals have been slightly underperforming to start the season.

The St. Louis Cardinals have a balanced team this season. With decent-to-excellent hitting, fantastic speed, tremendous defense, above-average starting pitching, and a solid bullpen, the Cardinals should be winning more games than they have to this point. Tyler O’Neill has been a primary reason why they have been slightly underperforming to start the season.

Although the left fielder has yet to commit an error, his offense has left much to be desired through the first 31 games of the season. Of the Cardinals’ six players who qualify for the batting title, O’Neill is last in hits, home runs, total bases, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. Each of these last place finishes are on top of his team-leading number of strikeouts.

O’Neill, who was an MVP hopeful at the start of the season, has gotten off to a horrendous start to the 2022 campaign. Despite leading the team in pitches per plate appearance, he has cratered in many of the important hitting categories. O’Neill does have 19 RBIs, which is good for second on the team, but his runs created per 27 outs ranks last by a wide margin.

What does this mean for O’Neill? First, it could just be a slump. Baseball has a long regular season, and hitters come in and out of slumps frequently. This may just be an extended rough patch that he’ll hit his way out of naturally.

Second, the summer portion of the summer has not begun. The ball flies further in the summer months, which is the main thing hindering O’Neill’s production. Once he starts cranking doubles and home runs at a more consistent rate, his advanced numbers will balloon back to where they have been over the past few seasons.

Overall, there is not a reason to panic on O’Neill yet. We are barely a month into the season, and there is still a lot of baseball to be played. If we near the All-Star break and he is still struggling with power, then we can start to take a closer look at what is going on with his swing.