Cardinals: Is Lars Nootbaar underrated or overrated?

ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 28: Lars Nootbaar #21 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves in the sixth inning at Busch Stadium on August 28, 2022 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 28: Lars Nootbaar #21 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves in the sixth inning at Busch Stadium on August 28, 2022 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Joe Puetz/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals Lars Nootbaar
Lars Nootbaar #21 of the St. Louis Cardinals walks back to the dugout after striking out. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The case for overrated

For as fun of a stretch as Nootbaar put up after the Harrison Bader trade, it’s important to note that outside of that month and a half stretch, Nootbaar was a below league average hitter. Just take a look at his OPS month by month during the 2022 season.

March/April: .388 OPS

May: .182 OPS

June: .357 OPS

July: 1.030 OPS

August: .979 OPS

Sept/Oct: .693 OPS

For as great of a season Nootbaar had, it was streaky to say the least. You could argue that his second half numbers are the kind of hitter he has become, but may said similar things about the Cardinals breakout outfielder of 2021: Tyler O’Neill.

For comparison, O’Neill’s 2021 Baseball Savant page looks very similar to that of Nootbaar, and O’Neill put up a much larger sample size of success. Check out his OPS by month in 2021:

March/April: .805 OPS

May: 1.020 OPS

June: .817 OPS

July: .669 OPS

August: .917 OPS

Sept/Oct: 1.108 OPS

It’s really easy to get caught up in the excitement of Nootbaar’s game, but anointing him the most trusted Cardinal outfielder with such a small sample size doesn’t make sense when someone like O’Neill had an even higher peak for a longer period of time. None of that is to say that Nootbaar can’t be the kind of player he showed during July and August, but banking on that small of a sample size, especially when he regressed in September and October, does not make a whole lot of sense.

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