In the midst of a playoff race coming into the end of July, it was pretty obvious that the Yankees would be major buyers at the trade deadline. On July 19th, the Yankees sent Tyler Clippard, prospects Tito Polo, Ian Clarkin, and Blake Rutherford (Top 100 Prospect coming out of high school) for Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, and Todd Frazier. The Yankees wanted to bolster their bullpen and add a righty bat to help, a then struggling, Chase Headley against lefties. What they acquired from Frazier for the most part is similar to what the White Sox received when they traded for him before the 2016 season.
In 6 seasons prior to the start of the 2017 season, Frazier slashed .249/.314/.461 and averaged about 25 homers a season. Arguably his best season came in 2015, when he slashed .255/.309/.498 and hit 35 bombs. Granted he did hit 40 homers last year and had more RBIs, but his strikeouts were up and he wasn’t getting on base as much. Defensively he was pretty good too. He finished top 40 in defensive WAR and had all the essentials of a premier third basemen. Basically, he was a huge bat a team could stick in their lineup while having the luxury of playing top-notch defense. Sounds like someone every team wants, right?
Fast-forward to the short time he’s been in pinstripes. He has slashed .224/.373/.441 while hitting just 10 homers and having 29 RBIs. For the longest time his numbers resonated to the ones he had while a member of the White Sox, which did not sit well with the fan-base. However, with injuries, there were not many other options the Yanks could use regularly at 3B.
Compared to July and August, there’s a little more fire within Frazier in the month of September. This month he has hit 5 homers and has an OPS of 1.115, which, although is a small sample size, is well above his highest OPS month this year. He has had big games while in Pinstripes including a go-ahead hit and a great tag that prevented the tying run from going to 3rd against the Red Sox last month. A big home run against Chris Sale a week later. On top of that, he had a 3-run homer against the Rays last week that essentially sealed the win. These are just to a few of the things he has achieved as a Yankee.
Ideally, the Yankees would like to him to provide some power at the bottom of that lineup while also providing some very adequate defense. I think that he is starting to do so, as the regular season starts to come to a close. So will the kid from Tom’s River step up to the challenge and become a major contributor for this team come the playoffs, or will he sink under the pressure? For Yankees fans, we hope he reaches some of that potential he had in 2015 with the Cincinnati Reds.