Clint Frazier Enters 2021 as a Starter
While half the country has been dealing with some nasty winter weather this week (wherever you are, I hope you are safe and warm), hope of Spring has arrived. The Yankees’ Spring Training has begun and hopes are high for the 2021 season and for Clint Frazier.
We are still ten days before the first pitch will be thrown in a Spring Training game, but the uptick in baseball news certainly is well underway. On Wednesday, Aaron Boone spoke with reporters for the first time this spring and made some statements of note. Most broadly, Boone believes the Yankees are a “championship caliber” – which I’m pretty sure a Yankees’ manager has to say if they want to keep their job. According to Bryan Hoch, Boone also named Clint Frazier as the likely starting left fielder for the Yankees come Opening Day.
Boone said that he sees @clintfrazier as the #Yankees‘ starting left fielder. “Clint has earned his place.” — Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) February 17, 2021
Now, I realize that there are still many fans wishing that Brett Gardner will still return to the Yankees and play left. I am not one of those fans (which to some longtime readers won’t be shocking…). That being said, Boone did still leave the door open for a Gardy return, though it seems rather unlikely at this point.
Clint Frazier, however, I could not be more excited both for and about. He’s had a bumpy trip to this moment, but the potential has always been there and I enjoy watching him. He was one of my favorite parts of last season, adding to a strong showing in 2019.
Frazier came to the Yankees five years ago in the Andrew Miller trade. Fun fact courtesy of Pinstripe Alley – Clint Frazier is now the only remaining player from that trade who still is in New York or Cleveland. Frazier came to the Yankees as highly touted prospect and made his MLB debut in 2017.
Things did not go smoothly right off the bat for Frazier, who struggled with the New York press in his early days. He showed flashes of potential in his first taste of MLB baseball in 2017, but 2018 was virtually lost to him due to concussion problems.
Despite these early hiccups in his Yankee career, Frazier has persisted. He has continued to improve his defense, particularly after it seemed like he was overlooked for a promotion to the Bronx in 2019, which paid off for the outfielder. He was nominated for a Gold Glove for his performance in 2020. Injuries, being snubbed, and being constantly mentioned in every trade rumor could really wear a young player down, but Frazier seems to have responded well.
In 2019, Frazier eventually ended up playing in 69 games for the Yankees. He hit an impressive .267/.317/.489 with twelve homers and 38 RBIs. In 39 games last season, Frazier had some similar numbers, hitting .267/.394/.511, but with one big improvement. That on base percentage jump was courtesy of Frazier going from walking only 16 times while striking out 70 in 2019 to drawing 25 walks and only striking out 44 times. Obviously, last season was short, but he went from striking out 4.67 times for each walk in 2019 to striking out only 1.75 times for each walk in 2020.
As Boone said, Clint Frazier has absolutely earned his starting spot in the Yankees’ outfield come Opening Day. Barring an unfortunate injury or a truly dismal Spring Training, I look forward to seeing Frazier in the outfield this season. The improvements he has made defensively and at the plate could have him primed for a true breakout season this year.