St. Louis Cardinals outfielders’ performance: 2022 is 2020

gsimons
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Tyler O'Neill #41, Harrison Bader #48 and Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after a 6-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in game one of a doubleheader at PNC Park on September 18, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Tyler O'Neill #41, Harrison Bader #48 and Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after a 6-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in game one of a doubleheader at PNC Park on September 18, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

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.

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