Lars Nootbaar is that guy. The 24 year old outfielder made his major league debut in 2021 and was a spark plug in the minimum playing time he got. Most MLB fans were introduced to Noot last year when he made a spectacular leaping catch to rob Pete Alonso of a 3 run home run.
However, for us Cardinals fans, we knew Lars was going to be special. Nootbaar was an 8th round pick back in the 2018 MLB draft. He never was a top prospect in the Cardinals system, however he rose through the minor leagues quickly as he started 2021 in Triple A Memphis. His first few months in the majors weren’t memorable by any means as he kept getting sent up and down but he stuck on the roster as a 4th outfielder once August hit. In 109 at bats Noot hit for a .239 average with 5 home runs and 15 RBI’s. For the small sample size, Cardinals fans were happy with it. He brought much needed energy to the clubhouse and could be utilized late game if needed to pinch run or be a defensive replacement.
During the off-season rumors arose that Lars would be traded for a pitcher since he didn’t have a spot on the team. Thankfully, he showed he had the potential to be good with a plus glove in the outfield, a consistent left handed swing, and an all around athlete who is just 24.
Spring training hit and Lars was still on the team. He had a good spring and kept the 4th outfield spot, however do to injuries to Tyler O’Neil and Harrison Bader, Noot found himself playing time and didn’t take advantage of it. Players like Juan Yepez and Brendan Donovan proved they deserve playing time more, so Lars was sent down to Memphis. He’d bounce back up and down a few more times due to O’Neil going on the shelf twice, and then in mid July when Juan Yepez went down with a forearm strain the Cardinals called up Nootbaar he never looked back.
Prior to this last promotion Lars was hitting sub .200 which wasn’t good by any means. He wasn’t giving competent at bats prior to being sent down, but since he was called up on July 15th until now he’s been on fire. Noot improved his batting average up to .240 and has shown the pop in his bat hitting 9 home runs and 30 RBI’s in 207 at bats. He was also given the full confidence of the Cardinals front office as they traded away Harrison Bader in order for Noot to be the everyday right fielder along with being the spark plug this clubhouse needs.
Manager Oli Marmol has also seen Nootbar’s value depends on if the Cardinals are facing a right handed pitcher or a left handed pitcher. Marmol can have Noot hit leadoff against RHP and Edman hit lead off against LHP (before Noot being slid into the leadoff spot, the mix of Edman and Carlson weren’t consistent enough against righty’s and Noot brings that.)
With Nootbaar’s pop in his bat, strong defense (like his 5 star catch against the Yankees) and strong clubhouse presence you can see why he’s a Cardinal favorite but if he keeps doing what he’s doing it won’t just be Cardinals fans who talk about NOOOOOOOT!