Clint Frazier has been challenged to meet the standards of the New York Yankees’ unwritten but well-known code of appearance and behavior. The baseball skills are there. But the Yankees require more, putting Frazier in the crosshairs of a do-or-die season with the organization.
When it comes to Clint Frazier’s struggle with the New York Yankees, he is not alone.
There is always a learning curve associated with putting on a major league uniform for the first time, and it has nothing to do with connecting on a 97 MPH fastball on the sweet spot of your bat. For most players, the last thing they want to do is draw attention to themselves for anything other than their performance on the field.
This anomaly is complicated by the fishbowl players wearing the pinstripes are destined to live in. Stay in-bounds at all times, dress right, eat right, be nice. Some guys, like Aaron Judge and Derek Jeter, pick it up from the get-go, never missing a beat.
A select few can step beyond the lines and live to tell the tale. Reggie Jackson, who once claimed to be the “straw that stirs the drink” along with brawling with Billy Martin in the dugout, also hit three home runs on three consecutive pitches, piloting the Yankees to a World Championship against the Dodgers.
Clint Frazier: Adjusting to the life under the microscope
Clint Frazier is not Reggie Jackson. At least not yet, although he has shared of his special relationship with the infamous outfielder. However, in his brief career with the Yankees since coming over from the Cleveland Indians, Frazier has managed, several times, to shine a light on himself in ways that have done nothing to enamor himself with the Yankees organization. As a result, he could very well be in the crosshairs of Brian Cashman, who is faced with finding playing time for a plethora of outfielders in 2018 and beyond.
Writing for ESPN when the controversy was in full bloom, Andrew Marchand connected on a compelling piece he titled “The education of Clint Frazier.” Here’s how Marchand described Frazier’s “hair thing”:
This spring, Frazier’s mane, which flirted with the old George Steinbrenner rules about Yankees hair length, made headlines.
“My hair was bigger than my game in the media,” said Frazier in the RailRiders’ clubhouse earlier this month.
He knew he was toying with team rules. Frazier, whose hair has always been the longest among his friends, didn’t want to give in to tradition.
Ultimately, at the behest of Joe Girardi and others, Clint Frazier shaved those beautiful red locks in the full glare of the Yankees Twitter page.
— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) March 10, 2017
And then, there was the “mixup” in signals sent by Clint Frazier involving his request to wear the retired No. 7 jersey worn by Yankees legend, Mickey Mantle. Frazier would later send this Tweet to the reporter who misunderstood what he was saying.
i appreciate Suzyn reaching out and I accept her apology. i would never ask for a legends number.
— Clint Frazier (@clintfrazier) April 5, 2017
But the damage was done, and Clint Frazier was, once again, on the back page of New York newspapers for all the wrong reasons.
On paper, Frazier provides the team with all they want and need as a run producer who won’t hurt them defensively. But it’s all offset by that ugly word in professional sports – potential.
Regarding actual performance, the numbers do not show the upside associated with Frazier. Last season, in limited plate appearances (134), Clint Frazier hit .231 with four home runs and 17 RBI. Of more concern, however, is the paltry .268 on-base-percentage he posted.
Ironically, it’s Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson, who has offered himself as a mentor for the Yankees wayward child. But in the end, it’s Frazier who must wake up to the fact that he’s playing in New York for the Yankees, and we’ve been through this once before.
Tomorrow never knows
If you are Aaron Judge and you strike out a million times, you get a second and third chance to prove yourself. But that’s only because Judge has assembled enough collateral with the Yankees regarding his character and how he carries himself.
Clint Frazier has yet to earn that status with the Yankees organization. Because of his upside, Frazier’s trade value remains high, and his tenure with the team may have already run its course with Brian Cashman.
Ultimately, though, if Frazier is still around come February, his future endeavors in pinstripes will rest squarely on his shoulders. He needs to know the clock is ticking and there can be no more behavior hiccups, and all of his talking must come from his bat.