St. Louis Cardinals Oli Marmol sent a strong message to Harrison Bader after benching him for not running out a groundball/popup.
By all accounts, new St. Louis Cardinals manager Oli Marmol is a very player friendly manager. But on Saturday, he showed that he isn’t afraid to discipline his players if they aren’t meeting his standards on the field.
Marmol pulled Harrison Bader mid-game after the center fielder didn’t put in the expected effort while running out a groundball/popup. The two had a conversation about it previously and Marmol did not feel like Bader lived up to it on Saturday, according to Katie Woo of The Athletic, who said that Bader took the benching “great” and will be in the lineup on Sunday.
We’ll see how he responds on Sunday, but it’s refreshing to see a manager hold his players accountable, especially a player as important as Bader. He’s a Gold Glove outfielder who is showing that his breakout at the plate last season wasn’t a fluke, as he’s slashing .264/.305/.376 with five home runs and 19 RBI with a .680 OPS. He’s also shown other areas of improvement at the plate, too. Just take a look at his strikeout rates throughout his career:
2017: 26.1 percent.
2018: 29.3 percent.
2019: 28.8 percent.
2020: 32 percent.
2021: 21.2 percent.
2022: 16.7 percent.
Bader, 28, is perhaps underrated at this stage of his career, both locally and nationally. He has put himself in a strong position to receive a contract extension with the club and could receive serious consideration if he maintains this pace. But how he responds to Saturday’s benching will be worth monitoring, especially how he runs out a potential groundball or popup again.
But good for Marmol for holding his players accountable. Some may not like it, but it’s Marmol trying to establish his footprint on the team as he works to make the Cardinals a World Series caliber team – and considering that they now have a 1.5 game lead in the National League Central, he appears to be pressing the right buttons.