Tyler O'Neill

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Tyler Alan O'Neill

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Biographical Information[edit]

Tyler O'Neill has played in the majors and for Team Canada.

O'Neill's father Terry was a Mr. Canada bodybuilder in 1975. Tyler was the top hitter for Canada in the 2013 World Junior Championship, hitting .385/.467/.885 with 4 doubles, 3 home runs, 8 runs and 14 RBI in six games. He led the event in home runs, tied for first in doubles, was second in total bases (one behind Adam Haseley), was second to Haseley in slugging and was second in RBI (one behind Tomoya Mori). O'Neill was named to the All-Star team for the event, joining Haseley and Tzu-Hao Chen in the outfield.

The Seattle Mariners took him in the third round of the 2013 amateur draft, the #85 overall selection; they had gone with D.J. Peterson and Austin Wilson in the first two rounds. Wayne Norton was the scout. O'Neill hit .310/.405/.450 in 28 games for the AZL Mariners. He had a rough 2014 as he missed two and a half months due to a fracture in his right hand. He finished the season with a .247/.322/.466 batting line with 13 HR in 219 at-bats (but 79 K) for the Clinton Lumber Kings and also played briefly at two rehab stints.

O'Neill began 2015 hitting the ball hard for the Bakersfield Blaze but without getting on base much (.238/.275/.473, 16 HR in 65 G). He then joined Team Canada for the 2015 Pan American Games; despite being the team's youngest player (having just turned 20 years old a month before), he started in the outfield alongside former major leaguer Rene Tosoni and AAA player Tyson Gillies. He also hit in the heart of the order, starting off 5th behind Jordan Lennerton, then moving up to third. His three-run homer off Yoanni Yera in the 6th gave Canada all their offense in a 3-1 win over Cuba. For the event, he hit .188/.278/.469 with 3 homers and 6 RBI in eight games, while having one outfield assist and no errors. He tied for second in the Pan Ams in homers (even with Brock Kjeldgaard, Alfredo Despaigne, Tyson Gillies, Jeffrey Dominguez and José Adolis García, behind Anthony García). He was 0 for 4 with a walk in the Gold Medal game but Canada beat Team USA 7-6 for their second Pan American Games Gold in baseball, becoming the second team with multiple Golds in the Pan Ams (Cuba had also done so).

O'Neill played for Canada in the 2017 World Baseball Classic then spent the first half of the season in AAA for the Tacoma Rainiers. In 93 games, he hit .244 with 21 doubles, 19 homers and 56 RBIs. On July 21st, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in return for P Marco Gonzales in an exchange of prospects. He finished the season with the Memphis Redbirds, hitting .253 in 37 games. He was back in Memphis to start the 2018 season and was hitting much better, as in his first 29 games, he hit .319 with 13 homers. He was first called up to St. Louis in mid-April and made his debut on April 19th, striking out as a pinch-hitter against the Chicago Cubs. He played sparingly in his first week with the club, going 0 for 7 in 6 games before going back to AAA. He was called up again on May 18th, and began to show his mettle. He had his first hit that day, a single off Yacksel Rios of the Philadelphia Phillies and then scoring his first run after coming in to play left field as part of a double switch in a 12-4 win. He got the start in right field the next day and connected for his first big league homer, a solo shot off Luis Garcia. He then homered in his next two games as well and had managed to raise his average to .368 after 10 games. In all, he hit .254 with 9 homers and 23 RBIs in 61 games, for an OPS+ of 115.

Given his nice rookie season, the Cardinals were hoping for big things out of Tyler in 2019, and while he hit .262 in 60 games, his power dwindled to just 5 homers, sending his OPS+ on a dive to just 90. As a result, he was not used in the postseason. He then struggled even more during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, as his batting average tumbled all the way to .173 in 50 games. He hit 7 homers and drove in 19 runs, meaning that when he did hit the ball, he hit it well, but it was not enough to make up for too many outs, as his OPS+ fell down all the way to 70. There was one bright spot, though, and it was his outstanding defensive play in left field that earned him a Gold Glove. Given his poor production with the bat, all of his appearances in the Wild Card Series against the San Diego Padres were as a defensive replacement or pinch-runner. In 2021, however, he finally hit as had been expected for four years now, as he batted .286 in 138 games, with 26 doubles and 34 homers. He scored 89 runs and drove in 80, raising his OPS+ to a dominating 150. The Cardinals set a team record with a 17-game winning streak in September, and he was at the heart of things, winning the National League Player of the Month award for the period after batting .328 with 13 homers and 30 RBIs in 32 games in September and October. He then went 0 for 4 in the Cardinals' loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Wild Card Game. He repeated at the Gold Glove winner in left field.

In 2022, O'Neill batted .228 in 96 games for St. Louis, with 14 homers and 58 RBIs. His OPS+ was 101 and he was successful on 14 of 18 stolen bases attempts. However, he played his last game on September 16th, due to a hamstring strain, and as a result missed the postseason as well. Before the 2023 season, he played for Canada at the 2023 World Baseball Classic. He started two games in centerfield and two at DH and went 8 for 13 (.615) with 2 doubles, 4 RBIs and 5 runs scored. Starting in center field against the Toronto Blue Jays on Opening Day, March 30th, he homered off Alek Manoah in the 3rd inning of a 10-9 loss; that was the fourth straight year he had homered on Opening Day, becoming the fourth player to accomplish the feat after Yogi Berra, Gary Carter and Todd Hundley. Overall, it was a disappointing year, however, as injuries limited him to just 72 games, while the Cards had a down year, never really being in the postseason picture. He hit .231 with 9 homers and 31 RBIs, for an OPS+ of 94. The season also saw the emergence of Jordan Walker as a starting outfielder for the Cardinals over the long term, and with Lars Nootbaar, Tommy Edman and Dylan Carlson all also competing for playing time in the outfield, O'Neill was the odd man out and likely to be traded. He did not need to wait long, as on December 8th he was sent to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for two pitchers, Nick Robertson and Victor Santos.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2016 Player of the Year Southern League Jackson Generals
  • 2-time NL Gold Glove Winner (2020 & 2021/LF)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2021)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2021)


Further Reading[edit]

  • Ian Browne: "Red Sox trade for 2-time Gold Glove OF O'Neill from Cards", mlb.com, December 8, 2023. [1]
  • John Denton: "O'Neill back from Classic with sights set on starting in center", mlb.com, March 17, 2023. [2]
  • John Denton: "O'Neill seemingly odd man out in Cards' OF logjam", mlb.com, December 4, 2023. [3]
  • Greg Johns: "O'Neill eyes big spring with Mariners, Team Canada: Power-hitting prospect impresses Seattle with reworked approach", mlb.com, January 30, 2017. [4]
  • Joe Trezza: "Highly ranked prospect O'Neill joins Cardinals", mlb.com, April 19, 2018. [5]

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