Not much has gone right for the Cardinals offense in 2019. Marcell Ozuna and Paul Goldschmidt are the only regulars with an OPS+ over 100 — that’s the league average. And heck, Ozuna is on the disabled list right now, along with Yadier Molina and the puzzling Matt Carpenter. Goldschmidt’s going through the worst season of his nine-year career.
So it’s no wonder that the Cardinals are 25th in runs, 25th in OPS. Not even an endless loop of Gloria is likely to bail out this St. Louis club.
Then again, maybe Tyler O’Neill can help.
O’Neill rejoined the club in late June and he’s been a regular since, starting 12 of the last 14 games. His bat has spared three recent wins; O’Neill has four homers in his last five appearances. He’s up to .314/.344/.547 for the year, and he showed plenty of pop in his trial last year (nine homers, .500 slugging over 130 at-bats).
He’s not a perfect player, of course. O’Neill has a piddly four walks against 36 strikeouts in his 34 games this year, and he’s yet to homer off a lefty (puzzling from a right-handed batter). That .314 average could be smoke and mirrors — the Statcast metrics suggest an expected batting average of .239. His barrel rate is a modest 10 percent, and that strikeout rate of 40 percent is worrisome.
At least we’re moving into an O’Neill-friendly portion of the schedule. The next nine St. Louis opponents will be using a right-handed starter, which means O’Neill gets the juicy side of his reverse-platoon split (.328/.358/.625). If you want the true center cut of his production, note his OPS is 1.235 at home.
I’ll be open minded to O’Neill DFS play over the next couple of weeks. And if you prefer to make a seasonal play for O’Neill, he’s still unclaimed in about 80 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Danny Santana not going away
I’ve been reluctant to buy in on Danny Santana this year, turned off by his mediocre career record. Perhaps that’s a mistake on my part. Santana continues to pad the stats in Texas, and the Rangers don’t have any sacred cows on their roster. Willie Calhoun was sent down this week, and there have been rumblings of a possible Nomar Mazara demotion.
Like O’Neill above, Santana is another “see the ball, hit the ball” guy. He’s not looking to work counts and draw walks. The .316 average is 50 points higher than his .266 career average, and he was a Mendoza candidate in 2017-2018. But when he makes contact, fun things happen — 13 homers, .571 slugging. And he’s also stolen 11 bases, even if it’s taken 16 attempts to get there.
Arlington is the go zone for American League offense; oppressive heat, favorable dimensions and ball travel. Santana qualifies at three spots (first, second, outfield), and would be welcome on any of my mixed rosters — if I could still get him. It’s too late for me, but maybe it’s not for you; he’s still around in about 52 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Graduation papers for Keston Hiura
If the Brewers miss the playoffs by a game or two this year, it might be because of their handling of Keston Hiura. The rookie second baseman was demoted after an impressive first pass through the league, basically because of a roster glut the club was unable to solve. The club eventually bit the bullet and sent down the scuffling Travis Shaw, and Hiura has been one of the team’s stars — along with Christian Yelich — since his return.
No one can get Hiura out in the second half — he’s on a 14-for-23 tear since the break, with two homers and two steals. The Brewers had been reluctant to push Hiura into a favorable batting slot, but he rose to cleanup in Wednesday’s win over Atlanta. If I were shuffling middle infielders at the moment, Hiura would be pushed into the high-teens. Keep in mind, he has pedigree to the moon (Baseball Prospectus called Hiura the No. 6 prospect before the season).
Fantasy managers have finally gotten the memo, too. Sparked by extensive trading the last few days, Hiura is finally up to 54-percent rostered in Yahoo leagues. Throw the caps into the air, it’s graduation day.