One of the most interesting debates in St. Louis Cardinals circles right now is whether or not Lars Nootbaar is properly rated.
The St. Louis Cardinals expected big things from their outfield in 2022. Tyler O’Neill had been a top 10 MVP candidate, Dylan Carlson was a promising young talent, and Harrison Bader was an energetic mix of defense, speed, and sneaky power. But as 2022 came and went, Bader is gone, Carlson and O’Neill had disappointing seasons, and the outfielder that rose above the rest was none other than Lars Nootbaar.
Nootbaar spent some time with the club in 2021 and flashed signs of being more than just a replicable player. The 25-year old then came came into the 2022 season as a 4th outfielder for the club, someone who would bounce between St. Louis and Memphis as a depth piece behind their established starters. But as the year went on, Nootbaar got more and more opportunities as an everyday player.
Now as we enter the off-season, there is plenty of discussion about which outfielders the Cardinals should roll with in 2023. On top of O’Neill and Carlson, Jordan Walker looks primed to take an everyday role, and guys like Juan Yepez and Alec Burleson need at-bats. It is unlikely that all of these names are with St. Louis come Spring Training, making Nootbaar’s status with the club very interesting.
Some are calling Nootbaar the club’s most valuable outfielder, while others still see him as a secondary option for the Cardinals. Let’s look at the cases for Nootbaar being underrated, overrated, and where he actually make fall on the spectrum.