St. Louis Cardinals avoid arbitration with Harrison Bader
Harrison Bader got himself a nice pay increase Friday, as he and the St. Louis Cardinals avoided arbitration with a one-year deal worth $2 million.
According to Anne Rogers with MLB.com, the team is increasingly confident that the 26-year-old will continue to improve both at the plate and in center field.
Bader played 50 games in the shortened 2020 season, hitting .226/.336/.443 at the plate. It was an improvement from his 2019 campaign when he hit only .205/.317/.366. He hit with a .337 wOBA compared to a .293 wOBA in 2019. He had a .317 BABIP in 2020 which is a marked improvement over 2019 where he had a .268 BABIP.
Quite simply, while Bader played more in 2019, his numbers overall were much better in 2020.
On the field, Bader had only one throwing error and one fielding error in 317.2 innings played. He had a .975 fielding percentage in 2020.
ZiPS is even projecting a better year for Bader in 2021, forecasting a .234/.321./.415 slashline with 17 homers and 11 stolen bases.
Bader gets a lot of criticism for whatever reason, be it his hair, the way his dresses off-field, his all out style of play or relationship with manager Mike Shildt. It is unwarranted and somewhat unfounded when you look at his actual numbers.
Most fans will tell you they want Bader traded away, for pitching or an infielder, to make room for rising star Dylan Carlson. That may very well be what happens. For right now, Bader hustles and does his best on the field. I don’t know about you, but I want to see that hustle.
I do think giving him this contract will help build his confidence as well. He will see that management is rewarding his effort for stepping up and playing his style of ball.
Bader having an incentive to keep improving for a bigger deal or be the object of a trade can only be a good thing for him and the Cardinals.