Fantasy Baseball: The case for adding Harrison Bader

·2-min read

We all have our seasonal habits and routines. Around December, I buy some holiday presents. In April, I get my taxes prepared. I take a golf trip in July. I get a cold in October.

And sometime in early spring, I talk myself into Harrison Bader for fantasy purposes.

Should you look to add Harrison Bader in fantasy leagues?

I can understand those that eschew Bader. That career average of .243 feels unsatisfying. He’s never hit more than 16 home runs. The Cardinals don’t always view him as an everyday player. He’s got a big swing-and-miss problem in his game.

Maybe some of those walls can be knocked down. The .243 career average isn’t a bad thing in today’s game — the overall league average is .232, and the median average in a typical mixed league is just a few points higher than that. The 16 homers could come up if Bader maintains a full season of health and playing time; his plus defense could help him do that. And the swing-and-miss issues seem to be getting resolved. Bader only struck out 21.2 percent last year, a notable improvement.

He’s trimmed that number to 18.4 percent this season.

Apr 25, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Harrison Bader (48) dives but is unable to catch a ball hit by New York Mets third baseman Eduardo Escobar (10) during the second inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Harrison Bader hasn't been a fantasy flop this far in 2022. (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

And then there’s the other thing you get with Bader — he’s eager to steal bases.

Bader’s base-running confidence appeared to perk up late last year, when he swiped three bases in the final 10 days of the year. And this season, he’s taking whatever he wants. He’s stolen an NL-best six bags in the opening four weeks, and he’s yet to be caught. He’s always had the raw ability in this area — his sprint speed is 94th percentile. It looks like we’re watching experience mix with athleticism, well-timed for Bader’s age-28 season.

And when you mesh this all together, Bader stands as a regular of the Cardinals. The best ability, in so many instances, is availability. He’s started 22-of-24 games this year.

I have a few teams that could use a boost in the speed category, especially from a player who won’t collapse the home-run column. Bader fits that assignment. Perhaps you could make the same addition; Bader’s roster tag is a modest 28 percent in Yahoo leagues. Consider the Cardinal.

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