It seems like just yesterday the Cardinals had an infielder in the outfield. With Harrison Bader back patrolling centerfield, Dexter Fowler can move back over the a corner spot where he is better suited and the Cardinals will play three outfielders once again.
Though he has had his struggles at the plate, no one would question Bader’s skill in the outfield. The numbers confirm what the eye sees, too. In just under 1700 major league innings, Bader’s UZR is 21.4. UZR stands for Ultimate Zone Rating and it attempts to compare how much better or worse a fielder did than the average player. Fangraphs explains it more thoroughly here. DRS — Defensive Runs Saved — is also a popular metric to evaluate fielding. In that regard, Bader has shown to have saved a total of 10 runs so far in 2019 with his glove. This has him tied for fourth among centerfielders with over 500 innings this season. He ranks among the likes of Lorenzo Cain, Kevin Kiermaier, Victor Robles, Billy Hamilton, and Byron Buxton — players all known for their defensive prowess.
For those of you that would rather see for yourselves, though, here he is making some great plays in his first game after being recalled from AAA.
To get a complete grasp on just how great the latter catch that was, here is Andrew Simon of MLB.com:
Harrison Bader is back, folks.— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) August 21, 2019
He covered 82 feet in just 4.4 seconds to convert this 15% catch probability, and in a big spot.
His sprint speed was a near-elite 29.6 ft/sec. pic.twitter.com/Rq4aEW2F7B
Harrison Bader is back and the Cardinals defense is definitely better for it.
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