The New York Yankees have a top outfield prospect, Clint Frazier, but is it possible that he could be even better than we think?
Let’s assume Frazier will come back fine from his concussion and pick up where he left off (*fingers crossed*).
It seems obvious that once he’s healthy unless the Yankees have a few injuries, they will consider trading him for whatever they need at the deadline. But would the Yankees be giving up a diamond in the rough? According to new advanced metrics captured by Statcast, Clint Frazier has some elite batted ball skills.
If you’re unfamiliar with Statcast, MLB defines the technology as “a state-of-the-art tracking technology, capable of measuring previously unquantifiable aspects of the game. Set up in all 30 Major League ballparks, Statcast collects data using a series of high-resolution optical cameras along with radar equipment.”
One of the data points Statcast captures is called a “Barrel.” Essentially, a barrel captures batted balls that are hit with such a high exit velocity, that we should expect them to fall for hits more often than not. Using Statcast data, MLB records the leaders in Barrels per Plate Appearance (Brls/PA). They’re using technology to measure how often a player barrels up the ball.
As with all new metrics in baseball, we should look to see if they pass the eye test as well. Does this make sense? The top five in Brls/PA from 2017 include, in order, Aaron Judge, JD Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo, and Khris Davis. Interestingly, those five men were the only batters who hit over 40 home runs last year, and Stanton and Judge hit over 50. So Brls/PA seems pretty legit.
With a robust 7.7 Brls/PA, Clint Frazier was in some good company. You may have heard of some of these players with similar scores:
Yoenis Cespedes 8.1
Gary Sanchez 8.0
Manny Machado 8.0
Clint Frazier 7.7
Ian Happ 7.7
Bryce Harper 7.7
Cody Bellinger 7.5
Simply put, Clint Frazier put the barrel to the ball at the same frequency as Bryce Harper and was close to Yoenis Cespedes, Gary Sanchez, and Manny Machado.
The caveat here is sample size. Frazier only had 92 Batted Ball Events (BBEs), as he played in just 39 games last year, while the others had several hundred BBEs.
As we enter this 2018 season with the Yankees poised to contend for another World Series, many are already looking to the trade deadline to determine possible enhancements to this already loaded roster. Frazier stands near the top of many Yankees prospects lists, and with his path to the majors seemingly blocked, he seems like potential trade bait.
With this data, however, putting him in elite company, the front office may pause when considering whether or not to deal the young outfielder. Conversely, Frazier might be worth a bigger haul now that we’ve seen his elite contact skills at the major league level.