Advanced stats from 2021 that matter for St. Louis Cardinals

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 25: Tyler O'Neill #27 and Harrison Bader #48 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate the team win against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 25, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 25: Tyler O'Neill #27 and Harrison Bader #48 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate the team win against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 25, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals
Harrison Bader #48 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates as he runs the bases after hitting a solo home run during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on October 2, 2021 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images) /

Harrison Bader’s in-zone swing percentage (64.9%)

2021 was a huge year for Harrison Bader as the 27-year-old needed to produce to solidify his spot as an everyday player. Everyone knew about the speedy outfielder’s glove, but a black hole at the plate wouldn’t fly for a team that needs all the help it could get at the plate.

In the field, Bader won his first career Gold Glove in 2021, and at the plate, things improved too. Finishing the year with a full-season career-high wRC+ of 110, Bader also set career highs in doubles, and homers, and OPS. When Bader is not a defense-only player, his total value increases a ton and that was evident in his second-best fWAR of 3.4. This was second only to 2018, a year where Bader played in 35 more games.

I discussed the likelihood that Bader’s “breakout” year was sustainable in this article, but one of the biggest predictors of Bader’s success is something that is worth reiterating here. When Bader swings at more strikes, he’s going to have more success.

This idea seems very simple, but it’s been a weakness in Bader’s career. Overall, he’s swung at an average of 62.9% of the strikes he’s seen, solidly below the league average of 66.8%. In 2021, Bader swung at 64.9% of the strikes he saw which was the exact same percentage as 2018, his next best MLB season.

If Bader can continue to swing at strikes this much or even improve to league-average, his production at the plate should improve.

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