Analysis

Yankees: Clint Frazier Should be the Everyday Left Fielder in 2021

With Brett Gardner on the free-agent market, the Yankees should hand over the starting left fielder job to Clint Frazier.

As we know, the Yankees have a multitude of free agents, including Brett Gardner. Normally, the Yankees re-sign Gardner early in the offseason, as they don’t have a clear internal organizational answer to plug in the outfield. Not only that, but the Yankees also depend on Gardner’s clubhouse presence and leadership. However, Clint Frazier emerged as a formidable threat, not only in the batters’ box, but in left field in 2020, and it’s time for Red Thunder to take the reigns as the everyday left fielder.

Where’d the Yankees get Frazier From Again?

In 2016, the Yankees were aware of the fact that their roster probably just wasn’t good enough to go the distance — or even make the playoffs, for that matter. Because of this, the Yankees began selling off pieces at the trade deadline, including Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Beltran, Andrew Miller, and Ivan Nova.

When the Yankees sent Miller to the Cleveland Indians, they got a few prized prospects, one of which was Frazier, who was one of the Indians’ top prospects. Frazier quickly became a strong prospect for the Yankees, and four years later, he reached his full potential.

Frazier’s 2019 and 2020 Season

We saw Frazier perform with the bat in 2019, but the glove wasn’t quite there yet. He hit .267 with a .317 OBP with a 108 wRC+ and a .333 wOBA. Essentially, he was solid with the stick in 2019, but his offense didn’t necessarily move the needle. The defense by Frazier, however, made his slightly above average offense not close to worth it. Frazier had -8 DRS and -5.2 UZR, some of the worst fielding numbers in the MLB.

However, Frazier took a major step forward in 2020 on both sides of the ball. Although he only hit .267 (the same average from 2019), he had a whopping on-base percentage of .394. He also mashed eight home runs and had a wRC+ of 149 and a wOBA of .388. That’s not all, though, as Frazier’s defense excelled, as well, as he even got nominated for a gold glove in left field. Frazier had 2 DRS and a 1.7 UZR.

I think it’s clear that with a 26-year-old Frazier who’s excelling and a 37-year-old Gardner who’s declining that it’s time to hand the full-time left-field job to the former. With Gardner out on the open market as a free agent, this makes it the perfect time for the Yankees to name Frazier the left fielder of the future just as he’s hitting his stride and let Gardner walk, following his 12-plus years in Pinstripes.

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