Every year since 2012, we’ve spent some time after the season looking back at those that wore the Birds on the Bat. Whether it’s a bit player that got into just a couple of games or someone that played almost every day, we’ll look at their stats, their positives, their negatives, and grade them based on what we would have expected from them. The stat line is from their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers may include time with other teams, if applicable. Think of this as like the players packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter. Once again, our great header work comes to us from cardinalsgifs, who continues to be a master.
Player: Tyler O’Neill
Season stats: 61 G, 142 PA, 29 R, 33 H, 5 2B, 9 HR, 23 RBI, 2 SB, 7 BB, 57 K, .254/.303/.500, 115 OPS+, 1.4 bWAR
Hero/Goat: Hero 2, Goat 3
Overall grade: B
Positives: Made his major league debut April 19 in Wrigley Field….made up an excellent “brofield” with Harrison Bader….hit his first three major league home runs in consecutive games…had a three hit game against the Pirates in August….hit his first walk-off home run against the Giants in September….seven of his homers came against righties….had a .913 OPS at Busch and six of his home runs came in front of the Cardinal faithful….six of his homers came in the second half….had an .894 OPS in August….four of his homers came when he was batting fourth, where he also had a .917 OPS….hit .462 on the first pitch….had a 1.148 OPS when ahead in the count….hit .316 with nobody out, but four of his home runs came when there were two outs in an inning….his OPS with runners in scoring position was 1.066….had a 1.107 OPS with two outs and RISP….had a .957 OPS in medium leverage situations….was 1 for 2 with a home run and a strikeout in extra innings….hit .270 against finesse pitchers….hit .400 (in six games/five starts) against the Rockies….all five of his doubles came in night games….hit 26 home runs in 64 games at Memphis, putting up a .311/.385/.693 line….became the fan favorite/mascot of Kyle Reis’s “Prospects After Dark”.
Negatives: Struck out almost once per game in the big leagues and slightly more than once a game in Memphis….was sidelined for a few games with a mysterious malady that no one every fully explained but seemed to be focused in the groin area….went 0-7 with two walks to start his major league career….went 0-5 with four strikeouts in a May game against the Pirates….only got three plate appearances between that walkoff homer against the Giants and the final game of the season, which he started….hit just .214 in road games….hit .200 in September….was three for 18 (with one homer) as a pinch-hitter….had a .458 OPS in 11 games hitting third….57 of his 90 two-strike plate appearances ended in a whiff….hit .224 when the pitcher was ahead….had a .204 average when there were two outs….five of his home runs were solo shots but he hit .209/.274/.463 with the bags empty….was 4-22 against power pitchers….hit .071 against the Brewers.
Overview: Folks had been pretty excited about O’Neill since he came over from Seattle for Marco Gonzales. O’Neill’s power was legendary and he proved that it wasn’t an empty boast with the pop he showed both in Memphis and in St. Louis. In 101 games in Memphis since the trade, O’Neill has hit 39 homers and put up an excellent all-around line in AAA this year, as noted. He got a good bit of run in St. Louis and held his own, enough to make you wonder what could be with some more playing time. That said, his playing time dropped a bit in September, in part because Jose Martinez wound up back out in the outfield but also because of his contact concerns. O’Neill can play all the outfield positions, though, and remains a very intriguing talent.
Outlook: O’Neill’s outlook is heavily influenced by what the Cardinals do this winter. If they wind up signing Bryce Harper, it becomes difficult to see much of a future for the Canadian Clouter in Cardinal red. With Harper, the club would have to move Dexter Fowler and Jose Martinez just to get O’Neill to be the fourth outfielder for 2019. It might be easier to find out what O’Neill’s value is to a team needing outfield help. It’s very obvious that O’Neill has nothing left to prove in Memphis and even though he still has options, I don’t expect he’ll be walking with his feet ten feet off of Beale next year at all unless recovering from injury. Now, if they don’t sign Harper, there’s a path for him, Fowler, and Bader to rotate time. Still a lot of things up in the air for Mr. O’Neill, it feels like.