Three St. Louis Cardinals who will improve this year and two who will regress

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Progression: Tyler O'Neill

Tyler O'Neill battled injuries all through 2022, but even during the periods he was healthy, he didn't come close to reaching his numbers from 2021. Two years ago, O'Neill hit .286 with 34 home runs and won his second Gold Glove Award. In 2022, he managed to hit only .228 with 14 long balls.

There are reasons to be optimistic about O'Neill in 2023, though. He was 16% above league average in exit velocity, so he still hit the ball hard. Also above average were his hard-hit percentage, barrel percentage, and sweet spot percentage. Good things were still expected to happen when he hit the ball; the results just didn't show it.

"When he hit the ball" is often the main issue with O'Neill given his propensity to strike out often. However, he improved upon his swing-and-miss rate in 2022; which dropped from 34.7% to 30.9%, which was aided by a decrease in his chase rate.

There were obviously some parts of O'Neill's 2022 season that didn't match 2021; if they all had, he would have had a better season. O'Neill's ground balls increased and fly balls decreased. Ground balls aren't a death knell for O'Neill given his elite speed, but he also didn't go the other way as often. His 42% pull rate suggested that he was attempting to sell out for power and wasn't trusting his natural approach.

O'Neill has been a popular name among the fanbase as a trade candidate, but he has every reason to be able to return to form in 2023 and remain an everyday outfielder despite likely competition from Jordan Walker.