Todd Frazier Deserves Your Attention

When I think of Todd Frazier, I think of a guy who can hit for power but will hurt you in batting average. Last year might have looked like the beginning of the end for him. Looking at his plate skills, though, a change was starting to occur. This has resulted in a hot start and a big reason why the New York Mets are rolling. As of this writing, Frazier is owned in 63% of Yahoo leagues (up from 57% on Sunday). That means 37% don’t know or don’t believe in his hot start. Is this hot start for real? Let’s dive into his past seasons to compare the numbers.

Season Team PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% AVG OBP
2012 Reds 465 19 55 67 3 7.7 22.2 .273 .331
2013 Reds 600 19 63 73 6 8.3 20.8 .234 .314
2014 Reds 660 29 88 80 20 7.9 21.1 .273 .336
2015 Reds 678 35 82 89 13 6.5 20.2 .255 .309
2016 White Sox 666 40 89 98 15 9.6 24.5 .225 .302
2017 White Sox – Yankees 576 27 74 76 4 14.4 21.7 .213 .334
2018 Mets 60 2 8 9 1 21.7 18.3 .295 .450

It looks like a change in approach happened last year. His walk rate increased from 9.6% to 14.4%. Unfortunately, these changes did not lead to a better average as he ended the season with .213. He’s brought the same approach to New York and is walking at a ridiculous 21.7% rate. This time around his average is sitting at a sparkly .295. Before we check into what could be causing the uptick in average, let’s look at his plate discipline to see exactly why he’s walking more.

Season Team O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% SwStr%
2012 Reds 35.60 70.40 49.80 66.40 81.50 75.10 12.40
2013 Reds 33.20 70.90 49.10 63.40 84.70 76.40 11.60
2014 Reds 32.60 68.10 47.90 60.90 83.40 74.70 12.10
2015 Reds 36.70 76.10 53.00 63.80 85.20 76.50 12.40
2016 White Sox 32.60 65.60 46.70 60.20 81.90 73.30 12.50
2017 White Sox – Yankess 25.00 60.20 40.20 67.10 82.20 76.90 9.30
2018 Mets 22.40 49.60 33.70 65.80 90.00 80.60 6.50

We clearly see why he’s walking so much. He’s chasing fewer pitches outside the strike zone, down from the 30’s and now in the 20’s. This year he is chasing pitches off the plate 22.5% of the time. He is starting to look for his pitches, swinging 33.9% of the time and swinging at strikes only 6.6% of the time. This has led to him making contact in the zone 89.5% of the time, a big increase from a year ago and a number that would have ranked him second in 2017. Right now Frazier is locked in and his plate discipline supports his walk and strikeout rates. Let’s see how he is hitting the ball and if it supports his average.

Season Team GB/FB LD% GB% FB% IFFB% HR/FB IFH% Soft% Hard%
2012 Reds 0.74 22.40 32.90 44.70 11.10 13.20 0.90 13.00 30.30
2013 Reds 1.06 18.10 42.20 39.70 7.40 11.70 4.70 15.30 32.10
2014 Reds 1.11 21.70 41.20 37.10 8.80 17.00 8.40 16.90 34.20
2015 Reds 0.69 19.10 33.10 47.70 16.80 15.10 6.80 18.40 37.30
2016 White Sox 0.73 15.70 35.60 48.70 18.50 19.00 3.90 20.70 31.30
2017 White Sox – Yankees 0.72 18.40 34.20 47.50 18.50 16.10 5.80 23.20 32.20
2018 Mets 0.63 29.70 27.00 43.20 6.30 12.50 10.00 8.10 43.20

So he’s never been a line drive kind of guy, but this year he is. 28.6% of his batted balls are line drives, a ridiculous change in approach from a year ago. Another great thing is his line drives and fly balls are up and ground balls are down. His infield fly ball percentage is now at 6.3%, a decrease that we love. What we also love to see are his soft and hard contact percentages. He’s hitting the ball hard 42.9% of the time and soft only 8.6% of the time. That additional hard contact could help sustain a higher than average line drive rate.

Is Todd Frazier’s hot start for real? YES! All the changes in his approach prove he can keep this up. However, Statcast shows that his average should be .258 instead of the .295. Is he a .290 hitter? Probably not, but he can easily have a .270 average while posting good numbers in the cleanup position. The Mets are winning games and there will be plenty of runs to be driven in. Continue to roll with Frazier as he looks like a different batter at the plate.

 

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Jordan Lyn

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