Todd Frazier and Genuinely Improving

There is something to be said for guys who seem rather bland and become undervalued because of their seemingly averageness when it comes to fantasy baseball. To me, Todd Frazier is one of those guys. In whiffing on Chase Headley, I was able to grab Frazier on the waiver wire a few weeks back and have enjoyed the performance he has given me thus far. From looking a bit more in depth at his numbers, it seems like he should sustain a better-than-expect level of performance.

Mainly, Frazier is picking his spots better and learning how to be a higher quality hitter. He has dropped his O-Swing% from 35.1% last year to 30.3% this year. Being more selective is something Frazier needed to do for a number of reasons. One is to keep the strikeout rate down and another is to make more consistently good contact. While his batted ball rates look similar last season, his home run per fly ball ratio being 14.3% compared to last year’s 11.7% speaks to his more selective approach. Getting into better hitter counts and less pitcher counts is a positive for the same reasons mentioned above.

Aside from generally looking like he has a better approach at the plate one month in, he has started 22 of 30 games batting fifth or higher in the batting order. Compare that to his career where he has made just 84 starts in 307 games started at fifth or higher in the order and you can see that he should be in line for both more plate appearances and more RBI opportunities. Joey Votto moving to second and Jay Bruce now being injured should allow Frazier to see more opportunities in the third and fourth spot as well as long as he continues to swing the bat well.

Which brings me to my final point about Frazier. He has taken advantage, so far, of his speed. He has three stolen bases in three opportunities compared to just six steals last year in 11 chances. While he obviously is not the most fleet of foot player, he does have enough baseball acumen and athleticism to grab a decent amount of bases. Going forward, ZiPS projects Frazier for 17 home runs and eight steals for the rest of the season, which would put him at a 22 and 11 total. While ZiPS likes his homer and steal totals, it doesn’t necessarily like his rate stats as it projects his average to be .246 and OBP to be .318. I think with better command of the zone and a more experienced approach at the plate in now his third full season, we can expect rate stats similar to what he has produced this year with the addition of increased power and speed. All in all, I am happy to own Frazier and I think he is an appropriate “buy high” guy as I think his performance, specifically in on base leagues, is sustainable.

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Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.

6 Responses to “Todd Frazier and Genuinely Improving”

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  1. Sarge6 says:

    Late round flier as backup for R. Zimmerman. Couldn’t be happier. If he can get his MLB BABIP closer to his MiLB, he might yet be an AVG guy.

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    • Jason says:

      Same here, being a Zimmerman owner before taught me to hedge, I was hoping to get more than a couple weeks out of him but no complaints about Frazier.

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    • Nick says:

      Added him when Zimmerman went down as well. With a few Util spots in my league I am looking forward to having both of them!

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  2. Nick says:

    You can also see in Mike Podhorzer’s post about Batted Ball Distance Surgers that Frazier is hitting the ball an average of 19.43 feet further on his fly balls. Perhaps another sign that he is getting better contact. Perhaps 25 HRs is not out of the question…

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  3. Dan says:

    Would you take Frazier over Seager?

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    • Nick says:

      I have both Frazier and Seager and I am currently looking to trade Seager as I value Frazier more. Frazier has a better spot in the lineup (although Seager has been getting #4 and #5 recently) and seems to have the edge in steals. Last thing to factor: home ballpark. Great American is usually ranked near the top of hitter friendly parks while Safeco is usually ranked near the top of pitcher friendly parks.

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