New York Yankees News/Rumors: Clint Frazier, bungler to Gold Glove player?

William Parlee
New York Yankees, Clint Frazier
Apr 20, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Clint Frazier (77) at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

For the New York Yankees, the postseason is over, the dust has settled, and the bottom line is that they endured another failed season in their attempt to win their 28th World Championship. Among all the dismal results, the Yankees can take solace in some very bright takeaways from the shortened season. Two, in particular, go by the name of Luke Voit and the other, Clint Frazier. There is a very legitimate discussion as to who was the most improved player. I am picking Clint Frazier because he improved at the plate and increased his OPS by a hundred points, and most notably, vastly improved his defense in both right and left field.

While New York Yankee slugger Aaron Judge missed a lot of time in right field, Clint Frazier showed a new promise in right field, making diving catches, showing his strong arm, and an overall vastly improved defense. Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc., announced the finalists for the 2020 Rawlings Gold Glove Award®, honoring the best individual fielding performances at each position in the American League® and National League®. The winners will be unveiled during a live, one-hour “Baseball Tonight” broadcast on ESPN Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at 7 p.m. ET.

Since 2011, the Rawlings Company picks the best three players at every position to determine who is the best.  Due to the compressed 2020 season, the Award qualifications have been amended to rely solely on the SDI, which draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts. SDI utilizes MLBAM’s Statcast, Sports Information Solutions data, and STATS, LLC data, as well as traditional statistics with advanced analysis. For 2020 Award consideration, infielders/outfielders must have completed at least 265 defensive innings. Each player qualifies at the position he has played at most (SDI is only for play at qualified position).

This year’s picks for the right field were Clint Frazier of the New York Yankees, Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers, and Anthon Santander of the Baltimore Orioles. It is most likely that Santander and Frazier with not win out when the winner is announced. Joey Gallo has a wide margin to win the award. But the bottom line here is that Frazier’s defense was so good he was named one of the three top players at his position.  This is a far cry from the guy that was so highly criticized for his play just two years ago.

It’s also worth mentioning that New York Yankees’ third baseman Gio Urshela was also a finalist for the Rawling Gold Glove Award at third base.  The difference between Urshela is that he continued his excellent play at the hot corner, whereas Frazier’s performance was much improved.

Frazier got a big $3.5M signing bonus when he signed with the Indians in the 2013 draft. Frazier’s big break came in July of 2016 when the Indians traded Clint to the Yankees in a multi-trade that got the Indians, Andrew Miller. Clint was assigned the triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders. In 2017 Clint played in 73 games for the Rail Riders amassed 42 RBI’s, a batting average of .257 with 12 home runs. The reason he played only 73 games is that he was called up to the stadium on July 1st of 2017. Big Red or Red Thunder as he is called, enamored himself to Yankee fans on July 8th, when hit his first career walk-off home run, giving the Yankees a win over the Brewers.

During spring training in Tampa in 2018 in catching a fly ball to the left-field, he crashed into the wall and suffered a concussion, which ended his 2018 season. From May to August, he was frequently on the AAA/Stadium shuttle, although seldom playing. On September 8th, the Yankee manager, Aaron Boone, said that Frazier would miss the rest of the season to receive treatment for the concussion’s ongoing symptoms.

As spring training started last year, the never shy Frazier announced that he was ready to make an impact and wanted Brett Gardner’s left-field job when the time was right. During spring training, Clint was not particularly remarkable. Boone said that he would probably be sent down to the minors to start the season, which happened. Frazier was given another big chance to prove himself due to all the New York Yankee injuries. He was called up April 1st, and in three games and 10 at-bats, he had 2 hits and 1 RBI and a batting average of just .200.

During June of 2019, all Clint Frazier did was hit. In fact, he hit .320 with four multi-hit games. Despite his hot hotting, Frazier was controversial as he failed at times in the field, and then there was the episode when he failed to answer questions about his poor fielding. When Edwin Encarnacion was traded to the Yankees from Seattle, the Yankees decided that rankled many but sent Frazier down to Scranton. Frazier then further damaged his reputation by tweeting snarky comments about the Yankees and removing everything Yankee from his social media. Many considered these actions quite immature, and to be a real Yankee, he needed to grow up.

While at Scranton Wilkes/Barre, Frazier had hit for a .283 average with eleven home runs and 34 runs batting in. Clint has been mostly hugely popular and made a big impact on getting the Yankees over the .500 mark earlier in the last season. He ended his major league season playing in 69 games with a .267 batting average and 12 home runs. Last year, although he had a miserable fielding percentage in right field replacing Aaron Judge, he improved his play in left field with a 1.000 fielding percentage in seventeen games.

This year in spring training and the delayed summer camp, a new, more mature Clint Frazier had appeared.  He played well behind the plate and in the field during the training camps.  After baseball restarted after the coronavirus shutdown, Frazier was the only player elected to play in the field and at-bat with a face mask.  When interviewed, he stated that it wasn’t a problem; he was wearing the mask to protect his fellow players.

But even that new maturity, it didn’t help Frazier.  When the New York Yankees announced their 40 man roster at the beginning of the season, Frazier found himself back at Scranton.  Fast forward to this past week, Giancarlo Stanton injured a hamstring running the bases at Tampa.  The New York Yankees, in a somewhat puzzling move, called up Thairo Estrada instead of the obvious left field replacement, Clint Frazier.  Yankee and Clint Frazier fans wonder if he would see major league action this year in this shortened season.  He would be hitting third or fourth in their lineup with almost any other team, but with the Yankees, he continued to sit and wait for another chance at Yankee stardom.

Even in this short season, Frazier was most known for riding the shuttle between Yankee Stadium and the alternate site at Scranton Wilkes/Barre. That all changed on August 12th. In a game against the Atlanta Braves, Frazier went 3 for 4 with a home run. During the six-game losing streak in August, Frazier was the only player to hit .300 or greater in every game. On September 1, Frazier made an impossible flying catch in right field at Yankee Stadium. Shortly thereafter Yankee manager Aaron Boone announced that Frazier had earned a place on the Yankee everyday lineup.

Frazier ended his season hitting .267 with 8 home runs in only 35 games. That’s the equivalent of hitting 33 home runs in a regular 162 game season. In postseason play, he hit .286 with a home run in four games. Overall this season, Clint Frazier has cemented his place with the Yankees and possible future stardom.