Exit Interview 2017: Harrison Bader

For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Harrison Bader

Season stats: 32 G, 92 PA, 10 R, 3 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 5 BB, 24 K, 2 SB, .235/.283/.376, 72 OPS+, 0.1 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 3

Overall grade: C

Positives: Made his major league debut in July….scored the winning run in his first major league game….started September with three homers in 19 plate appearances….hit .400 against left-handers (8-20) with an OPS of 1.229 against them….hit .303 away from Busch Stadium….had a 1.231 OPS in the five games he hit leadoff….hit .364 on the first pitch of an at-bat….had a 1.420 OPS in high-leverage situations….hit .343 with runners on base…hit .283 with 20 home runs in Memphis.

Negatives: Scuffled in September, hitting .219….struck out in 26% of his major league plate appearances….had just a .314 OPS when he led off an inning….hit .200 with a .531 OPS with two strikes….hit .156 when there were zero outs in an inning….hit .205 against the other team’s starters….hit .143 in six games against the Cincinnati Reds, the team he had the second-most PA against….hit .156 in day games.

Overview: I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d see Bader wear a Cardinal jersey.  Given the slew of outfielders the club had, I felt he was a pretty obvious candidate to get moved while he still had a lot of prospect value.  Then, when the Cardinals called him up at the end of July, I figured he was here to stay, that they were going to make some sort of move to keep him in the lineup.  Instead, perhaps because a deal didn’t get made (maybe the rumored offering of Stephen Piscotty and Luke Weaver for Sonny Gray), Bader went back down to Memphis when the calendar turned to August, then resurfaced as rosters expanded.

It probably was a good idea to get him a little more time in Memphis, though the September results didn’t show it.  Bader had a three hit game in his second major league outing, but then went 2-13 with seven strikeouts in the next four games.  Pitchers seemed to know that he’d chase things off the corner and were getting him out with regularity.  He went to Memphis, helped them on their run, and regrouped a little bit.  Hopefully the fact that he hit .105 (2-19) from September 15 to the end of the season was a bit of a fatigue/conditioning issue that he’ll be ready for next year and not as much about the league still having a book on him.

Bader brought speed and a good glove even when he wasn’t hitting, which was something the club lacked overall.  It was just difficult to get him into the lineup with Tommy Pham and Dexter Fowler being locked into positions.  Maybe they could have used Bader a bit more, but it’s hard to argue that the results would have been different had they done so.

Outlook: Bader’s still got a lot of value, but if the front office is determined to bring in an impact bat, it’s likely to be in the outfield, making Bader’s spot even more tenuous.  It would be very surprising to me if he wasn’t moved in some sort of deal this offseason.  Bader probably has a solid future in the big leagues but it seems less and less likely that it’s with St. Louis.

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