St. Louis Cardinals: Harrison Bader making strides in Memphis

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ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MAY 19: Harrison Bader #48 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates after scoring a run against the Texas Rangers in the tenth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 19, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MAY 19: Harrison Bader #48 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates after scoring a run against the Texas Rangers in the tenth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 19, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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With the heavily slumping Harrison Bader being sent to Memphis last month, players have stepped up in his place on the St. Louis Cardinals. Could it be time to call Bader back up though?

After a rather lifeless series from the offense against the juggernaut Houston Astros, the St. Louis Cardinals decided to switch things up a little bit; sending OF Harrison Bader to Memphis. If you would have told me this at the beginning of the season, I would have been shocked.

Bader was coming off of a breakout rookie season where he even placed top five in NL Rookie of the Year voting. Plenty of analysts expected Bader to make the jump to stardom over the course of the 2019 season, but it was never meant to be.

In the field, where Bader did his most lethal damage, he’s been fine. At the time of being sent down, he led the entire MLB in Ultimate Zone Rating (otherwise UZR), he was still using his speed and athleticism to make huge run-saving plays for the Cardinals. His problem though was at the plate.

Over the season, Bader has been absolutely lost at the plate, slashing a miserable .195/.309/.339 line. He was also in the midst of a prolonged slump, going 8-60 in his past 30 games. After the All-Star Break, Bader was basically sent to the bench and saw his playing time quickly fade, only making three starts since then.

Cardinals fans took note of Bader’s struggles, and with prospect Randy Arozarena terrorizing Triple-A pitching and Lane Thomas holding his own, fans were howling for Arozarena and Thomas to get their respective shots in the Major Leagues and send Bader to Memphis. I even wrote an article about why Bader needed to go fix himself in the Minors last month.

On July 30th, the Cardinals had seen enough from Bader and decided to send him down to AAA in hopes of fixing himself at the plate just in time for when the playoff push starts to intensify.

In my opinion, the problem with Bader is his approach at the plate. I feel like he’s trying to make too much happen. It seems like Bader is trying to go for launch angle and hit home runs, which is a pretty common approach for MLB players nowadays.

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In a new analytical world where batting average is an overrated stat and where on-base plus slugging is king. The problem with that is that Bader isn’t much of a power guy, sure he has a little bit of strength to him, but that is by far his worst tool. Bader needs to be trying to use his best tool, his speed to leg out base hits and turn singles into doubles.

Second baseman Kolten Wong had the same problem at the plate, his approach was to try and go for launch angle and homers, but it wasn’t working at all. So Wong flushed that approach down the toilet and started to rely on the traditional hitting approach, which was trying to get on base and utilize his speed. Because of that, Wong has been on an absolute tear at the plate, hitting .376/.448/.505 since July 2nd. Since then, he has only hit two home runs.

So that goes to show that this launch angle exit velocity approach that hitting coaches are so desperately trying to implement into hitters heads aren’t for everybody, and I think Bader should be trying for the same approach that Wong has.

Bader has been doing a solid job in Memphis though after a rather slow start; currently hitting .302 with a 1.007 OPS. He has four home runs already, compared to his six all season in the Majors. His K-BB rate is still concerning though; as it is 21 percent compared to 11 percent. Also, yes, he’s still making those insane defensive plays that seem to rob the hearts of Cardinals fans everywhere.

Next. Paul Goldschmidt’s defensive impact. dark

With the way that Bader has been swinging the bat, we could see him back up in the Majors within the next couple of weeks, if not, he will be back regardless due to the expansion of Major League rosters for September. So, here’s to hoping that Bader built himself some confidence at the plate while in Memphis and that he can help contribute to an NL Central title run.

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