Nobody on the current Yankees roster has had the type of poor baseball misfortune that Clint Frazier has over the past few seasons.
First, it was the lat strain in August of 2017. Then he started the 2018 season on the disabled list with a concussion. After getting called up and quickly sent back down several times in May and June, he had probably the most famous play of his young career in Tropicana Field. Only problem was, it wasn’t something exciting like a home run — it was what would probably have been a home run but ruled a pop out after hitting a speaker on the ceiling of the dome. Par for the course regarding Frazier’s tough start to his major league career.
After getting called up one more time that season, he was shut down for the rest of the year with ongoing symptoms from his earlier concussion.
But all that seems to be behind him this season. Healthy, and given the opportunity to play every day with the injuries to Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton, Frazier has looked excellent in his limited sample size. Here’s his current stat line through seven games.
Frazier already has 3 home runs and 9 RBI in just 23 plate appearances. And that includes his new “Yankees moment” against Baltimore recently
Those are both good for 2nd on the team. To put it in another perspective, he had 4 home runs and 18 RBI across 184 plate appearances between 2017-18. His WAR is already 0.3 where it was -0.4 across the past two years.
It’s obviously a limited sample size, but Frazier has shown off that “legendary bat speed” that had him ranked so highly as a prospect. He’s also done a fair job of limiting strikeouts given his current 22.2K% is sitting a little lower than his typical minors numbers. While he’s never walked a ton, he’s currently sitting on just one walk this season. Look for him to up his BB% up to at least around 10% over time. Metrics show that he may be running into some luck with a .353 BABIP, but that number isn’t all that out of line with some of his seasons in the minors.
None of this should come as a huge surprise given his pedigree and it’s nice to see the outfielder putting it all together. He’s still just 24 years old. Across six seasons in the minors he amassed a .275 batting average, 73 home runs, and an .820 OPS. The guy can definitely hit. His defense has never been overly praised, and if you watched the game on Tuesday against Houston, you won’t forget the two missed dives he made. But Frazier is going to continue to develop in the majors for now. He’s certainly a better option than Mike Tauchman.
What seems to have disappeared over the past few years is his speed. In 2015 he stole 15 bases. In 2016 he stole 13 bases. It’s never been his main selling point but it has added value. For some reason that started to drop off in the last two years. In 2017 he stole 9 bases in the minors and 1 in the majors. 2018 saw him steal just 6 total bases. This year he doesn’t have any. Hopefully that changes.
The Yankees will give Frazier every opportunity until another outfielder returns, and even then he could force himself into Brett Gardner‘s role if he plays well enough. Though odds are they’d send him back to the minors to get everyday plate appearances.