Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mike O'Neill is what "Moneyball" is all about.

If you want to see Moneyball in action, all you have to do is go to Springfield, MO and watch Mike O'Neill play.

By most scouts' standards, O'Neill would not be a prospect.  He stand only 5'9", has no power and little speed.  But what he does have is the uncanny ability to get on base.

Through 25 games this year, O'Neill is hitting .338 with a .490 OBP (tops in the Texas league). Lat year in 418 at bats, split between high A and AA, O'Neill hit .359 with a .458 OBP (tops in all of the minors). 

Quite frankly, O'Neill knows how to get on base.  If Kevin Youkilis is Moneyball's "Greek God of Walks", then O'Neill is his Irish counterpart.

In Moneyball, Billy Beane went against conventional scouting and sought out players with high OBP, as baseball as a whole generally undervalued these type of players.  It is why, during the 2002 draft, the A's picked lightly regarded and heavy set catcher Jeremy Brown with the 35th overall pick.  At 5'10", 228 lbs., Brown didn't have the look of a top prospect, but he did hit .320/.493/.566 in his final year of college.

While Brown showed good on base skills in college, O'Neill's college stats were pretty pedestrian by comparison.  In his career at USC, O'Neill hit .320 with a .407 OBP.  Not bad, but certainly not overly impressive, which is probably why he lasted until the 31st round of the 2010 draft. 

After a knee injury limited him to just 50 games in 2011, O'Neill had a breakout year in 2012.  However, despite his success, scouts still have their doubts.  Baseball America lists him as the Cardinals 28th best prospect with the upside of a 4th outfielder, saying he doesn't have the range to play center, the arm to play right or the power to play left. 

However, if he can carry over his mad on base skills to the majors, the Cardinals will have to find a place for him.  Or perhaps they can just use him in a trade with Oakland.

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