Clint Frazier had a strong season in 2020, and this could finally be the breakout year that Yankee fans have all been waiting for.
Ladies and gents, Spring Training is all but over and the Bronx Bombers will be at Yankee Stadium this week to start their season against the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s tradition that, at least in a few cases per year, we see some players truly breakout and go from a solid player — or even a no-name player — to an all-out superstar. Call me crazy, but it seems like 2021 may be the year of Red Thunder, and Clint Frazier might be in store for a huge season.
Clint Frazier: Injuries and Roster Space
The Yankees acquired Frazier way back in 2016 from the Cleveland Indians in the trade that shipped relief ace Andrew Miller to Ohio. Frazier never really got an opportunity, and that was a product of two reasons: injury and roster space. First, the Yankees never really had any room to play Frazier. With Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, and even Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees never had a spot for their outfield prospect to play. In their opinion, it was the smarter play to keep Frazier in the minors playing on a consistent schedule than have him on the major league roster, but sitting on the bench playing only once every week.
The other factor is the number of injuries Frazier sustained that kept the outfielder out of action. Since 2017, Frazier has undergone three major injuries that have kept him out of action. One of these includes a concussion that kept Frazier out for most of 2018. With these many injuries sustained, it’s difficult to play long enough to really get a true shot.
It took until 2019, but Frazier finally began producing two years ago. In 69 games that season, Red Thunder put up very solid numbers. He hit .267 with a .317 on-base percentage. He also mashed 12 home runs and drove in 38 RBI. He had a wRC+ of 107 and a wOBA of .333.
In 2020, the outfielder had his best season yet, which has set him up to be the Opening Day left fielder in 2021. In 39 games, Frazier had the same batting average (.267) but had an OBP of .394. He also crushed eight homers with 26 RBI. His wRC+ was a very, very impressive 149 and a wOBA of .388.
Although the Yankees did bring back Brett Gardner this season, he’ll likely only be playing in a limited, backup role. The starting left fielder’s job is Frazier’s to lose, and only if he slumps for a prolonged amount of time will the Yankees likely even consider pulling him from the lineup.
All this considered, we have no reason to believe that Frazier won’t continue to improve both at the plate and in the outfield (he was a gold glove finalist last year) in what will likely be his first full season in the bigs. Expect a big season out of Frazier in 2021.