Before the season even began, Cardinals 25-year-old outfielder Lars Nootbaar hit the baseball scene with a splash, quickly winning the hearts and minds of, well, everyone. He was selected to represent Team Japan in the 2023 World Baseball Classic and his joy and enthusiasm to be participating was simply infectious. He was so clearly having a great time and it made fans excited for the sport and the tournament.
Then he did the hard part: rewarded people for watching. In seven games he slashed .269/.424/.269 and scored seven runs as a table-setter for Team Japan. Perhaps just as importantly, he introduced his signature pepper grinder celebration to his team, which then became a viral sensation. Team Japan had plenty of time to use it — they finished the tournament undefeated as World Baseball Classic Champions.
Nootbaar has followed all this by being a vital part of the St. Louis Cardinals offense. He is currently slashing .302/.444/.442 for the Birdos and has walked in 20.4% of 108 plate appearances. In a Cardinals season that started off pretty rocky, he has been one of the team’s most reliable performers. Going forward, his on-base ability will likely play a crucial role in whether the team is able to climb out of the hole they have dug.
It is a pretty fantastic story, this meteoric rise to international baseball stardom. Nootbaar himself even so himself in his article for The Players’ Tribune.
Fast-forward a few years and … here we are. And, honestly, it really is like: Can you believe this right now?
Playing for a historic franchise, in front of the best fans in the league, with guys like Nolan and Goldy and Waino? I couldn’t imagine anything better.
I’ve read a few of these Player’s Tribune articles now and while I don’t think I’ve ever read one that I didn’t like, but this one by Nootbaar is my hands-down favorite. His personality bleeds through the page.
Ain't no ghostwriting here, this is all Lars https://t.co/2OUElz3AA9— VHS (@VanHicklestein) May 12, 2023
He confirms everything you’ve ever thought about him throughout it. If you like Lars Nootbaar now, you need to read this. If you were apathetic about him, read this and have him charm his way into your heart like the rest of us.
People always come up to me and tell me: “It seems like you’re having fun playing the game. We always see you smiling. You seem like you’re enjoying yourself.” And I’m like….
Cuz I am! This is my dream. It always has been! Are you kidding me?
I’m having the time of my life right now.
The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Boston Red Sox 8-6 on Friday evening with a dramatic ninth-inning comeback. Lars Nootbaar singled to score Paul DeJong to tie the game and then scored the winning run on a home run from Nolan Gorman. Just a few plays show how important he is to the Cardinals success. What a journey it has been for him to get there.
I hope you all enjoy your Saturday! It’s a day game today, so I will see back here around 3:10 pm!