Harrison Bader is the St. Louis Cardinals’ most underrated player

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader has won the National League Player of the Week honors.

When it comes to the St. Louis Cardinals, at least on offense, most of the attention goes to Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill. Understandably so.

But Harrison Bader has emerged as a key figure for the Cardinals’ offense, hitting .517 (15 for 29) with 10 runs, five doubles, three home runs, six RBI, two stolen bases and a 1.000 slugging percentage in eight games last week, earning him National League Player of the Week honors.

Entering this season, Bader’s long-term future with the Cardinals was unclear. While he played elite defense, he struggled mightily at the plate, and was someone the organization couldn’t rely on consistently. He started this season with two stints on the  injured list, adding more uncertainty to his future, but has bounced back in a big way and has essentially cemented his status as the Cardinals’ center fielder in 2022.

Bader, 27, is hitting .270/.328/.466 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI. He’s in the discussion for the Gold Glove Award, something he has aspired to win for his entire career, and has emerged as a top center fielder in the National League. That has been highlighted during the Cardinals’ 16-game winning streak, with his play both offensively and defensively securing a couple victories in this stretch.

That was especially true Saturday against the Chicago Cubs, where he became the seventh player in Cardinals history to record at least four hits, two steals and a home run in a single game. The last player to do that? Ray Lankford in 1998.

If Bader continues this level of performance into the postseason, the discussion could turn into a potential contract extension in the winter. It’s a significant change from where the discussion was last winter, but with his performance this season and the Cardinals’ recent playoff surge, he’s earned a new contract in St. Louis.