Harrison Bader will be the Opening Day center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. But can he live up to his potential?
Harrison Bader is entering a critical season for the St. Louis Cardinals.
He is expected to be the Opening Day center fielder, something that has drawn the ire of fans. But really, Bader is considered by many people in baseball — scouts and executives — to be a premiere defensive outfielder. He was a finalist to win a Gold Glove in 2019 and since he took over as the primary center fielder, ranks fourth among all outfielders with 32 defensive runs saved.
Now, his goal is to actually win a Gold Glove, telling Zachary Silver of MLB.com: “We had one guy win a Gold Glove this past season in Tyler O’Neill, and that’s awesome. And I want one. I want one more than anything.”
Bader, 26, should be in the conversation for a Gold Glove should he stay healthy. He has all the makings required to win the award and has drawn praise of those around him, including president of baseball operations John Mozeliak.
“We were blessed with the opportunity to watch Jim Edmonds play during my tenure here, and he was someone that could make a spectacular play with the best of them,” Mozeliak said, via Silver. “I think there’s some parallels there.”
The biggest question for Bader, of course, comes at the plate. Manager Mike Shildt has expressed optimism that Bader, the owner of a career 93 OPS+ in 917 career at bats, will continue to improve. And if he does, he has the potential to be one of the most complete center fielders in baseball.
“With Harrison, truly just about the consistency, especially against the righties, being able to have that good approach and execution. And I do feel comfortable and confident. We’ve spent a lot of time with our players, and most importantly, Harrison spent a lot of time on his craft.”