Tyler O’Neill had an injury prone regression in 2022, but if he was a stock I would be buying it now because it is on sale for 2023.
St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Tyler O'Neill was slated to continue his 2021 surge in the 2022 season. He was expected by almost everyone to be a key component to the winning equation for the season. However, the injury bug caught him and seemingly never left him. It was very unfortunate to see.
However, the reason I think he is poised for a great 2023 is that there were some positive Statcast metrics that lead me to believe there are some positive things coming his way on the field.
In his breakout 2021 campaign his prowess of hitting baseball’s hard and consistently matched up. His Hard-Hit percentage was in the 93rd percentile, Barrel Percentage was in the 98th percentile, and xWOBA was in the 93rd percentile. He was a force in the batter’s box.
Even last year in his down season, his numbers were still positive. We all can agree that there was some fallback even with these, but we must remember he was playing hurt or coming back from injury for almost the entirety of the season. His Hard-Hit percentage was still in the 68th percentile, Barrel Percentage was in the 80th percentile, and xWOBA was still in the 67th percentile.
Tyler O’Neill has another glimmer of hope from his 2022 campaign that signals success for 2023. His approach was much more methodical with patience and proved to be effective in terms of his ability to draw walks.
In 2021, he was in the 26th percentile in walk rate. Not exactly a big walk guy by the look of that. However, a key difference last year is that he improved to the 72nd percentile in walk rate. Coinciding with that improvement, his chase rate also improved from the 51st percentile to the 69th as well. Those pitches he was once all excited to hit but had no chance to do so, he was able to lay off and show more patience.
I will admit that the only downside was less of an attack approach in conjunction with his patience. It seemed that sometimes he was so patient he was late on the pitch to hit rather than be out there to slug some baseballs like we all know he is capable of doing.
Ultimately though, if he can rekindle his focus and stay healthy, the cream always rises to the top. His tools are all there and it shows with those numbers above I think he has a strong mindset. He has to if he wants a great 2023 season. Yogi Berra says it best, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.”