For fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, the World Baseball Classic may be providing just the kickstart needed for a pair of outfielders hoping to start the season strong in the Gateway City.
Tyler O’Neill, Lars Nootbaar representing St. Louis Cardinals well in World Baseball Classic
With Tyler O’Neill representing Team Canada and Lars Nootbaar making a cultural impact on Team Japan, the St. Louis outfield has been well represented in the World Baseball Classic, as has the entire Cardinals team. The duo is not only representing their countries well at the WBC, but also giving Cardinals fans plenty of hope for the upcoming season when it comes to the production from their outfield.
The 25-year-old Nootbaar has been a big part of Japan’s dominance so far in the WBC, winning Pool B with a 4-0 record. Nootbaar, who slashed .228/.340/.448 in 347 plate appearances for St. Louis last season and is projected to be the Opening Day starter in right field, is slashing .429/.579/.429 for Team Japan in 14 at-bats.
Meanwhile, O’Neill started WBC play off on the right foot, helping Canada to a mercy rule-shortened 18-8 victory over Great Britain.
O’Neill followed that with a 1-for-3 performance against Team USA on Monday night, pushing his slash line to .714/.778/1.000 through Canada’s first two games.
The 27-year-old O’Neill slumped dramatically last season, slashing just .228/.308/.392 as he battled hamstring and shoulder issues. Projected to be the team’s Opening Day center fielder, O’Neill bouncing back to the form that he exhibited in 2021 when he finished eighth in National League MVP voting after slashing .286/.352/.560 with 34 homers and 80 RBI could be a big boost for the Cardinals’ chances of repeating as division champions.
Will some of the offensive displays put up by Nootbaar and O’Neill carry over into the regular season? Cardinals fans are certainly hoping that that is an added benefit of the World Baseball Classic’s appearance this March.