St. Louis Cardinals: Should Harrison Bader be on the NLCS roster?
Although Harrison Bader has been a defensive gem for the St. Louis Cardinals all season long, his struggles at the plate are a liability. Is it time to replace Bader on the NLCS roster?
After a 13 run explosion in game 5 of the NLDS series versus the Atlanta Braves, the St. Louis Cardinals are in the NLCS. This was a shocking turnaround from the rest of the series in which the Cards struggled to score runs.
Facing the Washington Nationals and their starting pitching lead by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, the Cardinals may find themselves continue to struggle to score. The Cardinals will have an opportunity to address this when they rework the roster for the upcoming series.
So, to help enhance the offense, should the Cardinals replace Harrison Bader with someone like Tyler O’Neill? I believe it’s a legitimate question.
Bader vs O’Neill
Bader’s 2019 regular season end with a slash line of .205/.314/.366 and his last 30 games his slash line was .188/.272/.356. In 10 at-bats during the NLDS, he had .200 and an OPS of .400.
Tyler O’Neill on the other hand, no doubt, was a stronger offensive player in 2019. His slash line was .262/.311/.411. In O’Neill’s last 30 regular-season games, his slash line was .254/.312/.408, across the board better than Bader. O’Neill wasn’t added to the active roster for the NLDS.
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Okay, we establish the fact that Harrison Bader is an offensive liability. However, there is no doubt he is a defensive gem and the Cardinals used him primarily as a defensive replacement in the series vs the Braves. His Rtot/yr for 2019 is 7 and his Rdrs/yr is 17.
Meanwhile, Tyler O’Neill’s Rtot/yr of -5 and his Rdrs/yr of -4 isn’t nearly as good. (Rtot and Rdrs are defensive metrics used to measure a player’s defensive acumen with 0 being average).
So the question really becomes, should the Cardinals add Tyler O’Neill to the NLCS roster for his potentially better offense in replacement of Harrison Bader’s stellar latter inning defense?
Cardinals skipper Mike Shildt will be able to make adjustments to his roster before the start of the series against the Washington Nationals. If Shildt decides to make a change and add O’Neill in order to drop Bader off the roster, who will become the late-inning defensive replacement?
Who could be the defensive replacement if not Bader?
That role could be filled by Randy Arozarena. The 24-year-old outfielder doesn’t have the MLB experience that Bader and O’Neill have, but his short resume as a defensive player is impressive. With only 11 games experience in the outfield, Arozarena has a Rtot/yr of 8 and a Rdrs/yr of 27.
His limited defensive metrics in 2019 by no means proves he is equal or better than Harrison Bader. Nevertheless, it does give Mike Shildt a viable option to improve his offense without noticeably hurting his late-inning defense.
So, should Mike Shildt make this move to add Tyler O’Neill in the place of Harrison Bader on the NLCS roster? It’s a legitimate question, especially for a team that can go several games struggling to score runs.
In short, yes
If it up to me, I would give it a shot. I think the defense won’t be affected significantly with this move. Randy Arozarena can handle the late-inning defense and Tyler O’Neill’s potentially better bat could make a difference in whether the St. Louis Cardinals advance to the 2019 World Series.
I’m not anti-Bader or pro-O’Neill, I just want to see the Cardinals in the 2019 World Series.