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Todd Frazier Deserves More Respect

Entering this offseason, Mets fans and some analysts have been eager to push Todd Frazier to the bench, or worse, out of town. The call to do that is odd considering Frazier is a good baseball player who has been a positive presence in the clubhouse.

With the Mets, we saw all Frazier could be for this team in April. At that time, the Mets were rolling with an 11-1 record, and the team was doing it’s oddly fun Salt and Pepper thing. It was team that was just “grinding” and having fun. The t-shirts were a hit with the fans, the players, and even the manager. Frazier was not just leading in the clubhouse with kooky stuff like the grinding, but he was also a leader on the field hitting .256/.395/.444.

Then something happened with Frazier that has never happened before in his career – he hit the disabled list.

The injured Frazier was terrible in the six June games he could actually play. In fact, he really wasn’t much better when he got off the disabled list. Given the Mets past history dealing with injuries, it should come as no surprise Frazier needed to land on the disabled list again in July.

At that point, April was long gone. Fans were no longer remembering the fun of the season. Instead, they were lamenting what could and should have been. There was plenty of blame to go around, and for the Mets part, they blamed Sandy Alderson, and they pushed the sick man out of the organization thereby leaving the trade deadline to a triumvirate of General Managers reporting to Jeff Wilpon.

In some ways, Frazier was a symbolic of all that was wrong. He was a second tier free agent, who was injured and did not produce. In May – July, when the walls were crumbling down, he hit .191/.226/.346. Lost in the shuffle was him putting together a decent August (partially because he was bad again in September).

More lost in all of that was how good of a baseball player Frazier actually is. From 2016-2017, Frazier posted a 5.8 fWAR and a 6.6 bWAR. He was a player who was improving both his walk and steadying his strikeout rate. In turn, this led to him getting on base at a much better clip. In fact, his walk rate was the fifth best among Major League third baseman over this stretch.

Defensively, Frazier had an 8 DRS which ranked seventh best among third basemen. When you consider Manny Machado has since moved to shortstop, he was really sixth best.

Over this stretch, with his improved plate discipline and good defense, he was arguably a top 10 third baseman. Even pessimistically, he was at least top 15, which still put him in the upper half of Major League starters at the position.

What is interesting with Frazier was even with how much of a nightmare 2018 was for him, he was still a 1.9 bWAR and a 1.5 fWAR player. When you add that to his down 2018 season, he ranks as the 12th best third baseman among active players. Again, Frazier is better than half the league. He’s a starter, not a bench player.

That said, newly signed Met Jed Lowrie is a better player. He’s a better hitter, and he’s a switch hitter. He may not have Frazier’s power, but he gets on base more, and he’s just as good, if not better, defensively. He’s an absolute upgrade over Frazier, and with Robinson Cano at second, Lowrie should absolutely be the everyday third baseman to start the year.

This means Frazier should be the first baseman, not a utility player. This is usually the part where fans clamor for Jeff McNeil or Peter Alonso.

McNeil has absolutely proven himself to be a Major League player. However, at this point, we’re not quite sure what he is. Is he the guy who hit for power in Double-A and Triple-A, or is he the slap hitter with a dubious 5.6 percent walk rate and .359 BABIP? You cannot be sure at this point. If he does prove himself, it’s likely the lineup is better suited to him playing in the outfield, especially with the Mets leaning on an injury prone Juan Lagares in center and a very questionable hitter in Keon Broxton in center.

As for Alonso, who knows? Behind his 36 homers and 119 RBI was a guy who had some issues in Triple-A. For those concerned about Frazier striking out too much (23.7% in 2018), Alonso struck out more than him (25.9% in Triple-A) against lesser competition. He also hit just .260 in Triple-A, which was partially the result of his .344 BABIP in Double-A stabilizing. Sure, we all know Alonso has tremendous power, but the issue is whether he is as complete a hitter as he is purported to be. Judging from his peripherals, including a high pull rates last year, he may not be, and certainly not against shifting Major League teams.

When you take defense into account, you wonder not if Alonso is ready, but just how much of an upgrade over Frazier he could be. In fact, you legitimately have to question if he’s even an upgrade. Even with Alonso’s work ethic, the odds are in Frazier’s favor.

Overall, Frazier is a good, but albeit flawed player. He’s not hitting for as high average, he strikes out at a high clip, and at 32, he’s leaving the prime of his career. We know all of this not just because those are his stats, but those are the negatives which are constantly brought up when his contributions are being marginalized.

Ultimately, with Frazier, the Mets have a good player. He’s not an All Star. However, he’s the type of guy who gives you power at the bottom of the lineup, good defense in the field, and a positive influence in the clubhouse. He’s a good player who should be starting on Opening Day.

0 thoughts on “Todd Frazier Deserves More Respect”

  1. Gothamist says:

    Wow, I never added it up after the Lowrie signing to compute that there was no playing time or even a roster spot for Frazier.

    Yet there must be some degree of an upderstanding that Cano and Frazier would work out at first base.

    I would have McNeil, Cano and Frazier all work out at first base and with Lowrie returning to SS as a backup in addition to bring occupied with third base reps also.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Lowrie isn’t a SS anymore

  2. oldbackstop says:

    This is a great article. I have seen so many things floating around the internet proposing lineups as if Frazier left for FA or the Mariners or something.

    I also have seen too many deifying McNeil or running down Lowrie. He is not the first choice I’d like to see at SS, but he has over 4000 innings there, and Rosario had a negative dWAR there last year. If Rosario slumps or is dinged or we need a double switch or it is garbage time, I have no problem seeing how Lowrie does. In fact I have no problem with Lowrie challenging for the job, he was all All Star last year and hit .303 with 23 HRs and 99 ribbies. Rosario is only 22, he can use a challenge..

    I am not a fan of the everyone can play anywhere Terry school of baseball. McNeil had a handful of games at OF and first base in the minors, and I guarantee you his career batting average isn’t going to be .329 and I guarantee you he isn’t going to suddenly get power and speed. McNeil’s dWAR last year was 0.0, I doubt he is going to bring better defense than Cano or Frazier.

    First base is tougher, but I hate this attitude like the benefit of excellence there retired with Keith Hernandez. Maybe Dom Smith should be given a little leash, if only to make him tradeable. By all accounts Alonso needs defensive work, so he shouldn’t be playing part time up here or forced up early (see Smith). And my fandom is with the Mets not Alonso’s relatives in six years, no way should we give him a year of service. That is like a breach of fiduciary duty. If someone asks why he isn’t up in April, the answer should be “Duh, because would burn a service year, imbecile.”

    Frazier has less than 100 games at first. I think both 30-something him and Cano can get breathers occasionally and give some starts or at bats to McNeil and Lowrie.

    1. Gothamist says:

      Sure Lowrie played SS long ago, sure it would not be ideal yet how many reserve infielders will they bring north?

      What I am not happy about a fast call up has nothing to do with the year’s service.

      I want to see him go 300 ABATs at Syracuse with far less Ks.

      I see him as a DH prospect who needs to hit his fielding ceiling at first base soon.

      Murphy was a far better fielder at 2nd than Alonso is at first?

      I rather he was considered, definitely known as a “We” guy vs, a “Me” guy.

      Plus … I wish he had more Minor League playoff experience — which maybe too late to hope for.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        I understand what you’re saying. With Lowrie, it would solve some issues, but I think Rosario is still your best bet.

        As for Alonso, I think everyone benefits from him getting more Triple-A at-bats.

      2. oldbackstop says:

        What is a “minor league playoff?” The 51s ended their season the first week in September, anybody who is worth anything in the league is called up September 1.

        I’ve had minor league season tickets for 20 years…it is total BS. Might as well be spring training.

  3. oldbackstop says:

    I also will say, with full awareness that MD will not like it, that I would give up a boatload to get Kluber or Bauer. Alonso plus McNeil plus Gimenez. Alonso may only be a DH, McNeil may be at the pinnacle of his value, and I’m not sure Gimenez has a major league bat.

    With one of those guys, former Callaway stars, we would be sick.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      I’d do that deal. The Indians wouldn’t, but I would.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        Ya think it would take Nimmo or Matz in the mix?…Lugo, Gsellman?…if we weaken Queens too much, whats the point…

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