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Bader ranges 119 feet to make catch vs. Bucs

Young outfielder has shown flair for making dynamic plays
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- Harrison Bader continues to push his way into the Cardinals' starting lineup -- five starts in the past week -- and every day, he seemingly does something to warrant staying there.

Bader's impact came early in the Cardinals' 4-0 loss Friday against the Pirates, when he crashed into the left-center field wall while robbing Gregory Polanco of an extra-base hit in the second inning.

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ST. LOUIS -- Harrison Bader continues to push his way into the Cardinals' starting lineup -- five starts in the past week -- and every day, he seemingly does something to warrant staying there.

Bader's impact came early in the Cardinals' 4-0 loss Friday against the Pirates, when he crashed into the left-center field wall while robbing Gregory Polanco of an extra-base hit in the second inning.

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"Harrison will run through a wall out there," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He gets great jumps and has the closing speed to make spectacular catches."

The latest in Bader's growing portfolio registered as a 4-star catch, per Statcast™, after he ran 119 feet in 6.2 seconds. Bader reached a top speed of 29.1 feet per second before leaving his feet, receiving a verbal assist from his left fielder.

Tweet from @Cardinals: Plays like this one are why @aybaybader has been rated as one of the best defensive players in the entire league! #STLCards pic.twitter.com/VMW1oBprDA

"[Marcell] Ozuna did a good job of helping me out, being another set of eyes out there for me," Bader said. "He screamed, 'Wall! Wall! Wall!'"

The gem reaffirmed what the Cardinals already know and the rest of the Majors is quickly learning: The 23-year-old continues to blossom into one of baseball's best defensive outfielders. He entered play tied for third among MLB outfielders in outs above average and second in catch percentage added, both advanced metrics that factor in difficulty when rating outfielders based on range.

But that prowess is just a part of Bader's all-around skill set. Bader became a regular in May after opening the season in Triple-A, winning playing time in place of the slumping Dexter Fowler and Ozuna. He started Friday over Tommy Pham, who is in a 3-for-38 funk.

Bader hit .310/.333/.569 with four home runs and three stolen bases in May. That allowed him to leapfrog every other Cardinals player in bWAR, despite limited opportunities.

"Being able to play is the biggest difference," Bader said. "I've always had confidence in what I can do on a baseball field. That's always been there no matter whether my name is in the starting lineup or not. The biggest difference is just being penciled in and going out and playing for nine innings."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Harrison Bader