Todd Frazier Is Stepping It Up
After a somewhat quietly impressive rookie season, Todd Frazier was enduring a bit of a sophomore slump until about a week ago. He started off the season off but plateaued at around six home runs despite hitting in one of the best ballparks in the league and hitting in one of the best lineups as well. It is unfortunate that Dusty Baker refuses to hit Frazier ahead of Joey Votto and consistently throws Zack Cozart and his low OBP in front of one of the game’s top hitters, but Frazier still slots in behind three tremendous offensive players in Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce. This allows him some pretty solid RBI opportunities and although his RBI totals to date are not too impressive, just 37 through 266 plate appearances, I expect those numbers to jump as his production improves.
The main place I expect Frazier to improve is in his ISO, and the ZiPS and Steamer projection systems agree with me. He currently sits at a .179 mark after posting a stellar .225 ISO last season. ZiPS expects that number to jump to .193 while Steamer has him at .190 for the rest of the year. I think somewhere around .200 sounds more accurate but .193 is certainly reasonable. The systems have him getting there backed by 12 and 10 home runs respectively, which should lead to a big increase in RBI.
While his overall performance has dipped this year, Frazier has still maintained a solid on base percentage by increasing his walk rate to a fine 10.5%. That is a notable improvement for a second year player and is a great sign of things to come. He is learning and getting comfortable with the major league strike zone, and the fact that his strikeouts have had to bump up in order for him to take more walks is not something I see as an issue. After all, his walk to strikeout ratio has jumped from 0.35 to 0.45, so he has seen a bigger increase in walks than strikeouts.
With an improved command of the zone, it is hard for me to expect his average to sit at its current .245 mark. I know a lot of people still play in average leagues, so the 30 point drop in average is frustrating. ZiPS and Steamer do not think that number should rise too much, but I have a bit more faith in Frazier’s bat than they do. I think expecting about a .265 average with 13-15 more home runs over the year with close to 50 RBI is where I peg Frazier, which is great production for a third base or utility option.
Frazier has also shown to be pretty productive on the bases this year, which is a nice surprise. He has ran only five times but he has stolen four bases, and the team will let him continue to run as long as he does so at this type of rate. In 2011 he stole 17 bases in triple-A, so he has shown the ability to run at a decent level in the past. It is not farfetched to put him at about 10 steals for the season, and I would certainly take 13 home runs and six more steals from Frazier going forward.
If you have the opportunity to trade for Frazier I would look to do so. His value is not incredibly high right now, so you probably can grab him at a reasonable price. He is not a star player in any stretch, but making smaller transactions like this can help you jump up a few spots in the standings.