Verdict? Overrated by some, under appreciated by others.
Sorry if this seems like a cop out answer, but Nootbaar is a bit of a polarizing player. If you’re in the camp that Nootbaar is the most valuable and trustworthy outfielder that St. Louis has, you may be overrating him a little. If you’re in the camp where you think Nootbaar has to be dealt this off-season, you may be under appreciating what he brings to the Cardinals.
Nootbaar has shown not only flashes of high level play, but the necessary underlying metrics to back it up. The issue really lies in the sample size and evidence of him coming back down to earth during 2022. No one expected Nootbaar to continue to have an over 1.000 OPS, but to dip below .700 OPS in September and October is worth noting.
His play, although extremely important, does not warrant him being the top outfielder out of the Cardinals current options. If the right deal presents itself this off-season to capitalize on Nootbaar’s value, I say the Cardinals should go for it. If not, then let him prove any doubters wrong in 2023.
Now, this is not me saying I do not believe in Nootbaar, I am just not as quick as others to anoint him as high impact, everyday player in 2023. Could Nootbaar become that, yes. Will he? That remains to be seen. I would much rather trust O’Neill, Carlson, and Jordan Walker this next season if that meant flipping Nootbaar for a major upgrade somewhere else.