ST. LOUIS – In the latest edition of former St. Louis Cardinals to find success after joining a new ballclub, there’s outfielder Tyler O’Neill and pitcher Jordan Hicks.

O’Neill is now with the Boston Red Sox. Hicks is now with the San Francisco Giants. Both were St. Louis Cardinals just last year.

Now two weeks into the 2024 MLB season, O’Neill and Hicks have made strong first impressions with their new teams, both taking on larger roles than what they had one year ago.

O’Neill has slugged six home runs since joining the Red Sox, good for a share of the MLB lead with Angels sensation Mike Trout. His 1.394 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging mark) is best among qualified hitters to this point of the year.

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O’Neill is now a primary right fielder for the Boston Red Sox after battling injuries the last few years and settling for more of a platoon role when active with St. Louis.

Hicks will make his third start of the MLB season on Wednesday. In six seasons with the Cardinals, he mostly pitched out of the bullpen. St. Louis gave him a few looks at starting, but the flamethrower usually entered ballgames in high-leverage bullpen situations.

The Giants sought to make him a starter for a thin rotation, and so far, it’s paid off. Hicks is undefeated with a 0.75 ERA over 12 innings through his first two starts. He’s averaging about a strikeout per inning and has only allowed one walk.

The general baseball observer may think it’s just a coincidence, but those who have followed closely have noticed an interesting trend of players performing to high levels after they leave St. Louis.

In recent history, one of the most apparent post-Cardinals breakouts came when St. Louis traded outfielder Randy Arozarena ahead of the 2020 season. He worked his way through the Tampa Bay Rays’ organization depth chart quickly and emerged as a postseason hero in their surprise 2020 run to a World Series appearance. Arozarena has produced a 20-20 season (home runs and stolen bases) in each of the following three seasons since then and remains one of Tampa Bay’s best bats.

After that, the Cardinals parted ways with outfielder Adolis Garcia who carved a similar path to Arozarena with the Texas Rangers and won a World Series title just last year. Garcia joined Texas in 2020 after the Cardinals placed him on waivers. He’s slugged more than 100 home runs in three full seasons (plus some change) since then and established himself as the everyday right fielder by the 2021 campaign.

Arozarena and Garcia both participated in last year’s Home Run Derby, bringing attention nationally to the Cardinals’ missed opportunities.

On their departures and success last year, Cardinals lead executive John Mozeliak offered the following remarks to FOX 2 Sports Director Martin Kilcoyne:

“At the time, where we thought our outfield was going to look like, has not achieved the success like someone Garcia has or even Arozarena. You try to pick the right players. At the time, I think [Tyler] O’Neill and [Harrison] Bader were more valued than them at the time of those deals. Now things have changed. You’re trying to get it right, you really are. But clearly, those look like mistakes.”

Some other examples of improvement and bigger roles after leaving the Cardinals of recent, though perhaps not quite as obvious, are Marcell Ozuna with the Atlanta Braves, Patrick Wisdom with the Chicago Cubs and Johan Oviedo with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Cardinals entered Wednesday with a 6-6 record in the young 2024 season and near the middle of the pack in many key team hitting and pitching stats, sans the production of O’Neill and Hicks.