Harrison Bader actually had the same 114 OPS+ in both 2020 and ’21, though the way he got to that mark was different each season. Two years ago, he posted a .226/.336/.443 triple-slash line that featured a wild 32.0% strikeout rate and a 10.4% walk rate. Last season he put up a .267/.324/.460 line while making much more contact, dropping his K rate to 21.2% while walking only 6.7% of the time.
Bader paired last season’s above-average batting with his first Gold Glove. His success on both sides of the ball earned Bader a two-year, $10.4 contract just days before this season began. The hope was he would maintain an above-average bat while pairing it with his stellar glovework.
At this point, the glove seems fine, but the stick is decidedly average. A solid weekend bumped his numbers up to .239/.317/.348 line. That isn’t awful in the horrendous offensive environment of 2022; in fact, it’s spot on average in terms of OPS+ at 100. Bader is making reasonable swing decisions, with a 15.4% strikeout rate and 8.7% walk rate, but the results aren’t there yet.
Maybe it will just take a little more time and some warmer weather for Bader (and others) to heat up, but at this point his bat needs to do more to help.