Top 5 St. Louis Cardinals with most to gain from the World Baseball Classic
5. Tyler O'Neill
Tyler O'Neill would not make this list if not for two things happening. A 2022 injury-plagued season and the emergence of a first-round pick by the name of Jordan Walker.
International sensation Lars Nootbaar should be thrown into this spot as well, but given his strong finish to the season last year, O'Neill makes the list. The outfield situation in St. Louis for the last 10 years has been in question.
From Randall Grichuk to Stephen Piscotty, to Tommy Pham, to Harrison Bader, the outfield has been a constant question for the Cardinals. While many fans want to believe that the team has it figured out with this bunch of outfielders, it just isn't the case again in 2023.
For O'Neill, he is still just two years removed from posting an MVP-like season after slugging 34 home runs with 26 doubles and 15 stolen bases over 138 games. The question with O'Neill is whether or not he can stay healthy for an entire season. His 2021 total of 138 games marks the only time in his career that he has passed the century mark in appearances.
Alec Burleson does not have a chance at making the starting outfield in 2023, which leaves manager Oli Marmol with a four-man race for three spots on the opening-day roster. O'Neill will be one of those three, but a strong World Baseball Classic will go a long way in ensuring his spot.
O'Neill will represent his home country of Canada in one of the toughest pools in the tournament. The Canadiens will have to go through the United States, Colombia, Great Britain, and Mexico to claim one of the top two spots in the pool.
Even if Team Canada defeats Mexico, the lack of MLB talent on the roster still places them behind Colombia and the United States in terms of Pool C superiority.