Yankees: Why Clint Frazier will be an All-Star in 2021
Don’t sleep on Clint Frazier, Yankees fans.
Evaluating the 2020 MLB season is a tall task given the nature of the 60 games, but one thing we know for certain is that Clint Frazier finally had a breakout year.
The 26-year-old showed off what general manager Brian Cashman calls “legendary bat speed,” posting an impressive .267/.394/.511 slash line and a 149 wRC+ over 39 games. He forced the issue with manager Aaron Boone when both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton got injured.
Frazier played himself into a starting role and is now our guy in left field.
His offensive numbers were beyond impressive — he was statistically the third best hitter on the Yankees last year behind DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit. His peripheral numbers — according to Baseball Savant — also suggest this is no fluke.
Frazier tweaked his batting stance last season which led to him drawing more walks at the plate — posting a career-high 15.6% walk rate — making him a much more patient and dangerous hitter.
The most impressive aspect of his season, however, came on the defensive side.
Frazier’s defensive struggles have been well documented during his MLB career, but this season there was a marked improvement in the field. Frazier posted +2 defensive runs saved (DRS) over 280 innings — an unthinkable jump from his -8 DRS over 395.1 innings in 2019.
He was even named a Gold Glove finalist in right field last season.
Frazier has always had a very strong arm from the outfield, but struggled mightily with his routes and being able to effectively cut off balls in the gaps. This past year showed the amount of work he put in on that side of the ball.
Frazier was a five-tool prospect, but has not been given the opportunity at the MLB level to put together a full season. In 2021, there’s nothing blocking his way.
The Yankees missed his bat in the playoffs as they opted to start Brett Gardner for a majority of their games, and while it was understandable at the time, Frazier needs to be the starting left fielder moving forward.
While the Yankees have made some depth moves in the outfield — trading for Greg Allen and signing Socrates Brito to a minor league contract — this does little to affect Frazier’s playing time.
If Frazier can stretch out his numbers from 2020 across a full 2021 season, don’t be surprised if he’s named an All-Star. And don’t forget, assuming the Yankees’ lineup is fully healthy to begin the year, he should be in a much better position to produce since his numbers last year largely came when the roster wasn’t at full strength.