When the news broke that Giancarlo Stanton went down with a grade one calf strain, nobody was shocked. The New York Yankees have endured significant injury concerns over the last year, and they have continued into 2020 with starting pitchers Luis Severino and James Paxton both set to miss considerable time. Paxton will return in April, and Severino will miss the entire season after succumbing to Tommy John surgery.
However, these injuries present opportunities for reserve options and prospects in the minor leagues. One of the players that will benefit greatly from Stanton’s injury is Clint Frazier, who struggled defensively in 2019 but is ready to return in better form this year.
2019 Stats: 246 PA, .267/.317/.489, 12 HR, 38 RBI, 28.5 K%, 6.5 BB%, 108 wRC+, 0.1 WAR
The one thing that has significantly hurt Frazier’s ability to develop is his lack of playing time. He was benched in 2019 after giving negative responses to media members after a tough outing against the Boston Red Sox in June.
Finding a starting position in the outfield is difficult with Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Aaron Hicks, all filling in as cemented starters. However, with Stanton being injury prone and Aaron Hicks recovering from Tommy John surgery and expected to debut in August, Frazier will have plenty of opportunities to become a regular player in the outfield.
There’s competition for Yankees’ Frazier in the outfield:
The Yankees have also elected to move third baseman Miguel Andujar into the outfield to help diversify his defensive abilities. Gio Urshela supplanted Andujar on the hot corner in 2019, but Stanton’s injury also opens up an opportunity for Miguel, who is offensively one of the Yankees’ best young players.
With the amount of depth in the outfield, Frazier has a tall task ahead of him. Getting regular at-bats and featuring defensively without any errors will help him justify his value as a starting level player.
Despite having a major league wRC+ of 100 in 2019, which is precisely the league average, he has the tangible qualities to be a solid player for the Yankees. He must get consistent reps and take full advantage of them with significant injured plaguing the starting unit.