Clint Frazier joined Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts of WFAN on Wednesday to talk about the fallout of his concussion and his public defensive shortcomings in 2019…
Ever since plowing into the left-field wall in 2018 spring training, Clint Frazier has been dealing with the fallout of his concussion. Part of that fallout seemed to be losing all confidence in his ability to field his position.
Frazier’s defensive struggles came to a head during a Sunday night game against the Boston Red Sox in 2019.
Failing as a New York Yankees outfielder doesn’t get any more public than when doing so against the Red Sox. Fans turned on Frazier quickly. They cited his inability to field the ball and his off-field antics.
Of course, by “off-field antics,” they really just meant “he doesn’t adhere to the Yankee way.” An unfair accusation rooted in the age of baseball before personalities were allowed to exist.
However, the defensive complaints are accurate. He makes poor decisions when the ball is hit to him. Frazier takes unnecessary risks rather than fielding a single cleanly. He regularly overthrows cutoff men and bases.
Simply put: it seemed like he had no feel for a position he’s been playing his entire life.
And make no mistake, the post-concussion symptoms played a large role in that. While Twitter warriors would call it an “excuse,” people who think logically would call it an “explanation.” If you don’t believe that, listen to what Frazier had to say about returning from his injury…
“I’d be lying if I said the concussion stuff didn’t bother me still,” Frazier said on WFAN Thursday afternoon. “I didn’t pick up a glove – the first time I picked up a glove was in spring training. That’s what a lot of people didn’t realize. I basically missed a full year of baseball and when you go through a head injury, you do worry about the stuff that comes with it.”
It certainly didn’t help his case that whether in left field or right field, he was stepping into a gold glove caliber player’s position. Even if he was average defensively, he wasn’t going to hold a candle to Aaron Judge or Brett Gardner’s ability.
“It was hard to process last year,” Frazier said. “Failing in front of 50,000 fans and the millions that are watching behind the scenes.”
Now does that sound like a conducive environment for someone recovering from a traumatic brain injury to improve on the weakest part of his game? It’s clearly the main reason Frazier was sent back down to Scranton, away from the bright lights and angry fans.
With a clean slate and his concussion issues behind him, can he improve enough on defense to keep his stellar bat in the lineup every day?
It has yet to be seen.
For what it’s worth, Frazier has looked a lot more comfortable in the outfield this spring. He’s made the routine plays but hasn’t had an opportunity to show any true improvement.
However, if that does carry over into the regular season, Frazier is a great weapon for the Yankees. And they’ll certainly need him if the injury bug strikes the way it did in 2019.
Frazier also addressed his standing in the eyes of the organization. He later said “I really had to search myself or search my heart and find out whether I was letting some of the stories the media were writing makes think that the Yankees didn’t like me or my own interactions with them. I don’t think there’s any bad blood. Maybe I’ve annoyed them at times but for the most part, I think they want to see me succeed here”
Yankees fans should want Frazier to succeed, too. He’s absurdly talented with a bat in his hand. Unfortunately, he sees the hate he gets online. He reads the articles ripping his defense and his attitude. It’s possible that New York just isn’t the right place for him to succeed. Frazier will struggle to find regular playing time at the major league level without injuries. He’s too talented to be in Scranton or spitting seeds on the bench.
As much as some Yankee fans may want him on the roster, he still may provide the most value in a trade. And someone this talented deserves the opportunity to be in a lineup every day.
At the end of the day, the Yankees need to make a decision on Frazier eventually. Either they see him as part of the long term plan, or they don’t. He deserves a real shot in New York to prove that his defense has improved and that he can be a weapon on a World Series contender.