Early on in Spring Training, New York Yankees‘ manager Aaron Boone was quick to name Clint Frazier as the starting left fielder this season. Boone has said countless times that Frazier earned the opportunity and that Brett Gardner would act as his backup.
However, just two weeks into the season, it already appears that Frazier’s role within the team is changing. Frazier’s sat four of the past seven games, albeit some struggles at the plate. Boone’s blamed this on wanting to get an extra lefty in the lineup when a right-hander pitches, which happens more frequently than left-handers pitching.
It’s funny that Boone would rather have Frazier sit against righties since his numbers are actually better than that to lefties. In over 400 at-bats against right-handers, Frazier bats .258 with a .796 OPS. Gardner’s career stats are very similar against righties, batting .264 with a .768 OPS when facing them.
With the Yankees getting off to a rough start, there’s no shame in putting Gardner in the lineup for a day or two to try and give the team an offensive jolt. However, it shouldn’t come at the expense of Frazier being on the bench almost every other day. He’s certainly not gotten off to the start he’d like with just 6 hits in 30 tries, but the Yankees cannot give up on him this early. Frazier provides value on both sides of the ball, and it’s just a matter of time until he snaps out of his slump. It’s not like almost every other Yankee is having trouble hitting the ball anyway.
Going forward, the Yankees need to stick to their word and continue to give Frazier a shot. It’s too early to give up on him as the starter, and it’s only fair to him for what he’s gone through the past few seasons with the Yankees.