As bad as the New York Yankees would want to have Clint Frazier this postseason, he just hasn’t proved himself to be ready for that yet.
The New York Yankees have given outfielder Clint Frazier multiple opportunities to prove himself this season, but the 25-year-old just hasn’t been able to take advantage of them.
Due to significant injuries to Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton during the season, Frazier played up with the Yankees from Apr. 2 until he was sent back to Triple-A on Jun. 17. After his demotion, Frazier failed to produce consistently through his 61 games with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
During those 61 games, Frazier hit just eight home runs, 26 RBI, .186 ISO, .288 BABIP, produced an 85 wRC+ and slashed a disappointing line of .247/.305/.433/.738 as well. One of the biggest concerns with Frazier at the plate is his inability to get on-base consistently. At Triple-A this season, Frazier produced a measly 6.3% walk rate and a troublesome 20.8% strikeout rate.
In addition to all those strikeouts, Frazier also induced concerning amounts of popups during his time in the minors, creating a 32.4% IFFB rate at Triple-A. Based on his numbers at Triple-A, Frazier didn’t exactly earn a promotion back to the majors at the start of September.
Frazier was recalled by the Yankees on Sept. 1 and has played in just eleven games since his promotion. During those games, Frazier has recorded a trio of doubles, one home run, four RBI, .188 ISO, .190 BABIP, an awful 29 wRC+ and a hitting line of just .156/.182/.344/.526. The Yankees’ outfielder has also further struggled to get on-base since arriving back to the major leagues. Frazier has created an even worse walk rate of 3% and a 30.3% strikeout rate since the start of September.
The Yankees are also still concerned with Frazier’s fielding issues on fly balls in the outfield as well. While with the Yankees, Frazier has spent the majority of his time in right field. Playing 259.2 innings in short right field at Yankee Stadium this season, Frazier has committed three errors and recorded a -6 DRS, -5 UZR and a -26 UZR/150.
Instead of having Frazier on their playoff roster, the Yankees will likely place Cameron Maybin on it over him. Unlike Frazier, Maybin has actually earned a spot on the Yankees’ playoff roster this season. Through his 77 games this season, Maybin has generated nine home runs, 30 RBI, .196 ISO, .367 BABIP, an impressive 125 wRC+ and a line of .284/.366/.480/.846 off the bench for the Yankees.
In addition to the numbers above, Maybin has also been able to get on-base at a much higher rate than Frazier this season. Maybin currently owns an 11.4% walk rate and a 26% strikeout rate. The 32-year-old has also produced fewer popups than Frazier this season, as Maybin has recorded a 12.9% IFFB rate. Maybin also provides the Yankees with a better defender in the outfield for the postseason as well.
This season, Maybin has played all three outfield positions for the Yankees and he hasn’t been a liability out there like Frazier has been at times. Through his 558.1 innings in the outfield between all three positions, Maybin has committed just two errors and has recorded a two DRS, 1.3 UZR and a 3.7 UZR/150.
Since his promotion, Frazier has also struggled to hit anything but a fastball. All five of Frazier’s hits this month have come against heaters. Frazier also hasn’t barreled up any offspeed or breaking balls in the majors since May. This month alone, Frazier has recorded an 80% strikeout rate and a 71.4% whiff rate against breaking balls, and a 50% strikeout rate and a 71.4% whiff rate against offspeed pitches.
The Yankees would love to give Frazier a chance to play in the playoffs this season. But, he just hasn’t given them any reason as to why he deserves to be on their playoff roster. In fact, Frazier may not even be apart of this team heading into next season. Even with Brett Gardner entering free agency following this season, the Yankees will hopefully have Aaron Hicks back at some point next season, along with Mike Tauchman as well.
So, that leaves Frazier as the odd man out, which could ultimately lead to trade this offseason. In order for Frazier to rejuvenate his career, he’ll need to improve on multiple aspects of his game for him to one day be apart of a team’s postseason roster. First, Frazier will need to improve his plate discipline against breaking balls and offspeed pitches. Frazier currently owns a .295 AVG and a 20.4% whiff rate on fastballs; so, clearly, he has no issues against those pitches.
Even if Frazier’s future isn’t with the Yankees, opposing teams seeking to acquire him will only play him every day if he lowers his strikeout rate and increases his on-base ability. Frazier’s defense will also need to improve for him to become an everyday player going forward. Too many times we have witnessed Frazier looking lost in the outfield and making errors and misplays on routine fly balls.
Entering his age-26 season next year, there’s still lots of time for Frazier to improve before being labeled as a bust. He’ll have to watch this year’s playoffs from his couch like the rest of us. Although, if he makes these improvements over the offseason and through next season as well, Frazier may find himself on a team’s playoff roster this time next season.