Even as Aaron Judge prepares to return to the New York Yankees lineup, Clint Frazier isn’t going anywhere.
While his reputation may still proceed him, there’s no questioning the value he has provided to the Yankees lineup as the Bronx Bombers attempt to claw their way into the 2020 MLB playoffs.
Despite months to rest and heal injuries, the New York Yankees have spent the season decimated by injury after injury. Both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have combined to play in just 32 games this year, but both are expected to be back in the lineup within the next week or so.
When Judge returns to take over right field duties, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on Sunday morning that Frazier’s bat will remain in the lineup by shifting over to left field.
Clint Frazier is more than “very much in this mix.” Frazier has earned his spot in the middle of the Yankees lineup and his development isn’t just showing up at the plate, but also in the field.
Overall, Frazier is slashing .270/.383/.517 with 11 extra-base hits (five of them home runs), a 145 wRC+, and a remarkable 14.9% walk rate.
Frazier’s patience at the plate has been a huge asset. That walk rate is an extreme jump from his 6.5% walk rate through 69 games last season and his selectivity has paid big dividends.
He’s swinging at much fewer pitches, about 9% fewer than in 2019. His first-pitch swing rate is down about 12% to 16.8% and his chase rate has dropped to 15.4%, all of which are well-below league average rates.
The result? He’s absolutely mashing pitches in the zone. Clint Frazier is hitting the ball harder than ever before (91.3 average exit velocity on balls in play) and currently ranks in the 94th percentile in hard-hit rate, the 85th percentile in average exit velocity, and 91st percentile in barrel percentage.
Pitchers have had no choice but to attack Frazier head-on and he’s making them pay in 2020, putting up impressive numbers across the board, even if the home runs aren’t there.
While the performance at the plate has been much-needed, his play in the outfield has been something very few expected. Frazier currently leads all New York Yankees defenders with four Defensive Runs Saved. He also has already recorded a career-high two Outs Above Average and his 93% outfield catch success rate is five points higher than his expected success rate, according to Baseball Savant.
For reference, Frazier was worth -12 Outs Above Average with a 72% success rate last season.
The New York Yankees are going to make the playoffs and Clint Frazier is a major reason why. We have seen the emergence of a legitimate major league outfielder in 2020 and there may not be any questions about his role, looking ahead to 2021.