Lars Nootbaar: The Sabermetric Stud

Lars Nootbaar enjoying in school

Lars Nootbaar is understood for having probably the greatest names in baseball. His identify additionally picked up a bunch of consideration on the commerce deadline final yr when the Cardinals elected to commerce CF Harrison Bader to the Yankees and didn’t land Juan Soto. This led to Nootbaar turning into an on a regular basis OF for the Cardinals within the 2nd half and lots of people questioned whether or not betting this a lot on a younger OF with little to no expertise can be value it. Nonetheless, Nootbaar rapidly grew to become a fan favourite of the Cardinals and ended up placing collectively a strong yr should you simply take a look at his baseline numbers. Nevertheless, should you dive just a bit deeper it’s straightforward to see that Nootbaar had an elite season by sabermetric requirements and he’s trying like he could have a particularly vivid future.

Lars Nootbaar first began as a middle-of-the-road prospect popping out of Highschool. He was ranked five hundredth within the Nation and 146th within the state of California within the HS class of 2015. He dedicated to USC and noticed early enjoying time as a freshman as he appeared in 33 video games and posted a .634 OPS. He continued to be a strong participant at USC over the following 2 years as an OF/1B that was sound defensively and will hit nicely sufficient. He was in a position to play nicely sufficient to depart USC after his junior yr and enter the MLB draft. Nootbar was chosen within the Eighth spherical by the Cardinals within the 2018 MLB draft. After getting drafted, Nootbaar was seen as a venture kinda man. Regardless of him being an enormous man at 6’3, he was rather more of a singles man who was superb at avoiding strikeouts. He was additionally seen as a nonathlete and his defensive capacity can be restricted to first base. So to say the expectations from Lars Nootbaar as an MLB participant have been low is an understatement.

Nootbaar’s first yr within the minors (2019) was higher than most individuals anticipated as he was in a position to preserve a excessive BA and get on base at a really strong clip whereas protecting an excellent BB/Okay charge. He was in a position to make it as much as AA in 2019 the place he continued to be a productive participant. One other large shock was that he was in a position to play OF and did it very nicely, which was large for his improvement because it helped him acquire extra worth among the many Cardinals group.

These numbers will not be precisely elite however they have been nonetheless strong sufficient. Nevertheless Nootbaar was nonetheless non seen as an enormous prospect, he was not on the Cardinal’s high 30 prospect rating and by no means did seem on the rating. After not having the ability to play in 2020, Nootbaar began the 2021 season in AAA. The 23-year-old was rapidly going to place his identify on the map together with his efficiency in 2021.

Nootbaar was going off in AAA Memphis and ultimately attributable to some accidents and tough performances received a name to the large leagues. Simply to point out how loopy this fast rise or Nootbaar was let’s assessment actual fast how spectacular this early name to the bigs was. Nootbaar was an Eighth-round decide and seen as just about a non-prospect, and his first season {of professional} baseball was by all means strong however didn’t even elevate sufficient eyebrows to place him on the Cardinal’s high 30 prospect listing. Then after taking a yr off attributable to covid, he comes again and mashes at AAA and finds himself on the MLB roster by June of 2021. Nootbaar was in a position to make his debut after lower than 150 minor-league video games regardless of being a really low prospect. That is extremely uncommon and a few individuals even questioned what warranted this call-up so early, however the reply is straightforward. Nootbaar has proven all through his baseball profession that he can put the bat on the ball and keep away from strikeouts. This on high of the suitable outfield play that he had been displaying led to his early call-up. The Cardinals wanted somebody to place the bat on the ball and play strong protection and Nootbaar appeared like he was the proper man for that. Nevertheless, after his first 2 call-ups, there was nonetheless some query as as to if this man had what it took to play within the majors.

These numbers will not be good however there was nonetheless some promise there. For instance, he was nonetheless protecting his strikeouts low and he was additionally hitting the ball very onerous and getting unfortunate. The primary ball he hit within the majors posted a 108.4 Exit Velo and was a flyout. Actually, in these 30 PA, he hit 4 balls with exit velos of 95 or larger that ended up being outs. If even 2 of these hits fall his BA goes to .230 and his OBP goes to .333 and that is rather more strong. So it’s secure to say the Nootbaar deserved a 2nd likelihood at success and he was going to get it. The Cardinals traded away their 4th outfielder Lane Thomas which led to Nootbaar getting a promotion to the large leagues on the finish of July 2021. That commerce on high of Harrison Bader’s harm issues resulted in Nootbaar enjoying quite a lot of the 2nd half of the season. Nootbaar took this chance and ran with it and was in a position to earn his spot, to say the least.

Nootbaar was superb within the 2nd half for the Cardinals and earned his spot on the group for the following season. He was used loads as a defensive substitute and pinch hitter loads which he noticed success in. Nootbaar was in a position to take a small quantity of enjoying time and do absolutely the most with it. Diving into the small quantity of superior stats he produced this yr; Nootbaar had a far above-average dash pace and arm power and in addition had a strong max exit velo. One other optimistic factor seen from Nootbaar was the very fact he was in a position to hit lefties very nicely on high of being respectable in opposition to righties.

Heading into the 2022 season Nootbaar was seen as a 4th OF for the Cardinals who may very well be used for pinch-hitting and late-game protection if wanted. Nevertheless, attributable to an harm to Harrison Bader and later his commerce, Nootbaar grew to become the Cardinal’s full-time RF by the tip of June. As talked about early the Cardinals have been rumored to be within the Soto sweepstakes nevertheless the Cardinals weren’t in a position to land which led to extra stress being placed on Nootbaars shoulders. But once more, he was in a position to step as much as the competitors and performed very nicely in 2022, to say the least.

These numbers are very strong and have been a shock to most. He saved up his excessive stroll charge whereas additionally slicing down on strikeouts from his rookie yr. His energy surge was surprising, to say the least, as he went from a man that had zero to no extra-base hit potential to a man who was doing it at an elite degree. Nootbaar did this whereas additionally enjoying elite protection on the sphere. Nevertheless, regardless of these numbers being very respectable, they don’t seize how good Nootbaar was. To that, we should look deeper into superior analytics to point out his true worth.

These numbers are extremely spectacular and almost extraordinary for somebody of his age and expertise. He hit the ball very onerous which we noticed out of him his rookie yr however after gaining a full season he was downright superb. The mixture of hitting a ball that arduous that always, his excessive stroll charge, and his low chase charge is uncommon. To point out how spectacular that is, Nootbaar was 1 of 6 gamers to publish an avg exit velo and BB% within the ninetieth percentile or larger. These different 5 gamers embrace 3 of one of the best gamers in baseball: Decide, Yordan, and Schwarber, after which 2 of probably the most underrated gamers in baseball: Yandy Diaz and Ji-Man Choi. It is secure to say that what Nootbaar did this yr was extraordinarily spectacular and really uncommon; particularly for a participant together with his lack of expertise.

Heading into this subsequent 2023 season; Nootbaar is projected to begin for the Cardinals within the RF and sure can be a key piece. Streamer has Nootbaar projected as a 124 wRC+ and a couple of.5 fWAR which might be very strong from him. Count on him to regress barely on the plate, however together with his contact/energy/protection/endurance combo, he ought to nonetheless be an elite participant. Lots of people know Nootbaar due to his identify, however he wants to begin being recognized as a result of he’s superb at baseball.


Good Recreation

SB Nation

Baseball reference

Baseball Savant