In 2012 the NL Rookie of the Year was Bryce Harper. Wade Miley of the D’backs came in second, but guess who came in third? That’s right, of course it’s Todd Frazier of the Reds. That solid rookie effort had folks expecting a wee bit too much with Frazier in 2013. As a result his solid effort was roundly regarded as a failure in the fantasy game. Should it have been?
On March 8, 2013, here is what I wrote about Frazier in Questions at Third Base.
“…he struggled last year at times with contact, his 103 Ks aren’t exactly an encouraging number, and the result was a poor 0.35 K/BB ratio. Toss in an unlikely to be repeated 22.4 percent line drive rate, and it would seem that his batting average isn’t likely to go up but could go down. I don’t think adding Frazier is a “winning” move…”
My expectations were reasonable and therefore I was not at all surprised as to what happened to him in 2013. What about you?
Frazier had a 75.2 percent contact rate in 2012. He slightly improved that number to 76.4 percent in 2013. He also slightly improved his contact rate on pitches he swung at inside the strike zone from 81.5 to 84.7 percent. However, despite those minor improvements, we’re still talking about a batter who isn’t the best guy we’ve ever seen at the dish. His 125 K total, in this day and age, is acceptable for a guy with 531 at-bats, but because he only walked 50 times on the season his BB/K rate was merely a league average 0.40 (that mark was 0.35 in 2012). Let’s just say his approach isn’t stellar.
So what happened in 2013 when his line drive rate regressed as I predicted it would (his 18.1 percent mark in 2013 brought his career mark down to 20.1 percent, right on the league average)? His batting average and OBP tanked. His average fell from .273 to .234 while his OBP went from .331 to .314. As a result, even though he had 109 more at-bats in 2013 than in 2012, he only scored eight more runs. Of bigger concern than that, because again it seemed rather obvious that the 2013 effort of Frazier could have turned out this way, is the fact that his power bat went into hibernation.
In 2012 Frazier hit 19 homers with 67 RBIs.
In 2013 Frazier hit 19 homers with 73 RBIs.
What’s the problem? Oh yeah, he had 109 more at-bats in 2013 so his per at-bat effort was significantly lower. Why did his SLG fall from an impressive .498 down to .407?
First, his fly ball rate fell from 45 to 40 percent. That’s a lot of fly balls to give up over the course of a season, and that impacts a guy’s ability to go deep. He also gave back a wee bit in the HR/F category, something that could easily reverse itself in 2014. After posting a 13.2 percent mark in 2012 he fell to 11.7 percent in 2013. That drop is totally within the realm of the expected, but when that number dipped a bit, and his fly ball rate dipped, well, you get a failure to blast off 20 times. He has a bat that could hit 25 homers in 2014 though so don’t forget that when you’re evaluating Frazier.
When breaking down Frazier I’m struck by how boring he is, not that there is anything wrong with that. He’s locked into the starting lineup at the hot corner with the Reds, and .250-20-75 seasons seem like they could be coming for the next decade. If everything breaks right this guy could go 30-100. If things don’t go right, well, then it’s 2013 all over again. For those of you that have been around for a while think Casey Blake when you think Frazier. The Reds’ third sacker isn’t someone to build your fantasy team around. He isn’t someone to target as your starting third baseman. However, if you don’t want to spend big on first and third basemen he’s a solid late round add as a corner infield bat on the chance that it all comes together and he posts a season of impressive numbers. It could happen, but there’s just nothing outstanding here to really hang your hat on with Frazier.
By Ray Flowers