In a year in which Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton spent most of the regular season on the shelf; and Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman underperformed, Clint Frazier was a bright spot for the New York Yankees. He started the season behind all of them for playing time, and with patience, hard work, defensive improvements and a much better batting eye (and mechanical adjustments,) the red-haired thumper claimed his fair share of at-bats.
For the season, Frazier slashed .267/.394/.511, ëven though he struggled down the stretch and lost playing time to Gardner in the postseason. However, Gardy’s future with the Yankees is uncertain and Stanton is set to handle designated hitter duties in most of his starts. That means Frazier should have earned a regular spot for 2021 and beyond.
In just 39 games, Frazier ranked fourth among New York Yankees’ position players when it comes to fWAR, with 1.3. Only DJ LeMahieu, Luke Voit and Giovanny Urshela had better marks, and all of them played in more contests.
The Yankees are better off with Frazier as the starting left fielder
When asked about whether Frazier had earned a spot in next year’s lineup, MLB.com’s beat writer for the Yankees Bryan Hoch said he believes the “Red Thunder” should be the primary left fielder going forward.
“I believe Frazier has earned that opportunity. Take out his 1-for-20 skid at the end of the regular season and Frazier was clearly one of the team’s best offensive performers, batting .306/.422/.595 with eight homers and 26 RBIs in his first 33 games. We knew his bat would play, but Frazier’s defense improved markedly, which he believes is partially attributable to being further removed from his 2018 concussion,” he wrote.
Hoch also praised Frazier’s patience. “When the Yankees came into this year, there did not appear to be a clear avenue for Frazier to score at-bats over Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Tauchman. Credit to Frazier: he waited, then made the most of a chance. Gardner’s status is uncertain, Tauchman hardly played down the stretch and the Yankees view Stanton as a full-time designated hitter. The Yanks are still too right-handed, but Frazier’s time appears to be now.”
With a quick bat, an improved approach (highlighted by a 15.6 BB%) and a decent glove, Frazier has potential to deliver a four-WAR season in 2021, which would be hug for the Yankees.