One of our regular offseason traditions is the Exit Interview, where we look back at each player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past season. This is the 11th season we’ve done this and it’s a good way to get a view of the whole year, not just a short stretch of games. It’s sort of like a performance review before the players went off to their offseason work, spending a little time with Oli Marmol and going over what went right, what went wrong. Stats and grades are only for a player’s time in St. Louis, though splits numbers may include other teams. As always, my sincere thanks to the legend of cardinalsgifs for providing the header image!
Player: Harrison Bader
Season stats: 72 G, 264 PA, 35 R, 7 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 15 SB, 2 CS, 13 BB, 47 K, .256/.303/.370, 91 OPS+, 1.2 bWAR, 1.5 fWAR
Statcast: .270 xwOBA, 3.4 barrel %, 83.4 exit velocity, 26.3 hard hit %, 19.8 K %, 4.8 BB %
Best Statcast category: Sprint Speed, Outs Above Average (93rd percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Max Exit Velocity (57th percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 3, Goat 3
Positives: Had three three-hit games in an injury-shortened season….hit .299 on fastballs, an increase of 18 points from the year before….June was his best month with a .687 OPS….hit .280 with two of his five homers hitting ninth….slashed .364/.391/.591 in 1-0 counts….had a .908 OPS when ahead in the count….hit .304 with runners in scoring position….was still outstanding with the glove, ranking highly in all the Statcast measurements….had a 1.300 OPS with a runner on third and less than two outs….hit .286 in late and close situations….put up an .855 OPS in high leverage situations….continued to destroy the Cubs, putting up a .367/.406/.567 line against them.
Negatives: Didn’t hit his first home run until May 1….ended his Cardinal career going 2-21, including an 0-4 in his final game….struggled with breaking balls, putting up just a .295 slugging on them….his weak contact went from 6% to 8.6%….slashed .212/.293/.269 against left-handers….put up a .425 OPS when he swung at the first pitch….had a .491 OPS when the count was even….hit .202 with two outs in an inning….hit .216 with one walk and 12 strikeouts in 39 plate appearances against the Brewers….had a .611 OPS in night games….hit .216 at Busch Stadium.
Overview: Bader was having a steady if unspectacular season when he went on the injured list at the end of June. He wasn’t necessarily following up on that hot September of 2021, but he was doing all right. It probably didn’t help him that his other outfield mates had been injured or ineffective, leaving a little more of the offensive brunt to him. Still, nothing really indicated that Bader wasn’t in the long-term plans of the Cardinals, especially after how much work they’d done to get that Tyler O’Neill-Bader-Dylan Carlson outfield to come to fruition.
However, John Mozeliak and company are always open to hearing offers and as the trade deadline wound down, the Yankees came calling. Whether they really felt like they had an overabundance of pitching or they thought they had a deal for Pablo Lopez, who knows, but they offered the Cardinals something they really needed, a starting pitcher in Jordan Montgomery, for Bader. Given the fact it wasn’t clear if Bader would be back at all in 2022, Mo made the deal and the New York boy went home.
Outlook: Bader has another year on the contract he signed last year buying out his last two arbitration years, so he’ll be a Yankee for 2023 and most likely continue to be a fan favorite as long as the defense holds and he can have a solid offensive season. It wouldn’t be terribly surprising if the Yankees tried to extend him this offseason and Bader would be wise to accept if they do. Otherwise the difference between him finding a starting role and being more of a defensive replacement will depend on how well 2023 goes for him.