Get ready Yankees fans, because it is officially Clint Frazier time in left field.
After playing 65% of games in the shortened 2020 season, the thought arose of Frazier being the full-time guy in left field going forward. Giancarlo Stanton is leaning towards being more of a full-time DH, while Mike Tauchman is more of a utility guy in the outfield.
Frazier’s only competition in left is Brett Gardner, who the Yankees brought back on another one-year deal to keep the outfield depth in tact.
Gardner is a fan favorite and a household name. He is the longest tenured Yankee on the roster, and has been nothing but reliable and consistent during his time in New York.
Frazier is quickly entering his prime years at 26 years old, and the Yankees need to evaluate his utility over a full 162-game season. It is time to decide if they intend on making him part of the team’s future.
Many fans will disagree, as they have already lost faith in Frazier due to poor play in the outfield over his four years with the team. Those fans do have a point. Frazier has committed many errors in the past, costing the Yankees runs numerous times. It was beyond frustrating for fans in those moments.
Putting all that aside, it seems manager Aaron Boone agrees with me. Boone announced Frazier as the Yankees starting left fielder for the 2021 season. Frazier has played in small stretches during seasons since he made his majors debut with New York in 2017.
But he has never really gotten a full blown opportunity to prove himself until now.
Frazier Looking to Build Off A Quietly Good 2020 Season
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Fortunately for Frazier, playing time has been frequent recently, as Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton seem to always be injured. His biggest opportunity was last season, and he took full advantage of it.
Last season, Frazier batted .267 with eight home runs and 26 RBI’s in 39 games. Those numbers aren’t eye-popping, but for fans that watched the Yankees last season, it seemed like whenever Frazier came back into the lineup he mashed a home run.
Frazier’s bat speed is truly amazing to watch, and when he’s hot, he is a really good bat at the bottom of the Yankees lineup.
Perhaps the biggest thing Frazier did in 2020 was improve his fielding. Fans brush it under the rug, but Frazier was a Gold Glove finalist for right field last year: an unbelievable improvement from seasons prior.
And when October baseball came around last season, Frazier made the most of it.
In the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, Frazier went 2-6 (.333 BA) with a home run and an RBI. Sure, he struck out four of the six at bats, but every Yankee fan remembers that home run vividly.
In game one, the game was tied 1-1 in the third inning when Frazier stepped into the box. He proceeded to hit one to the moon off Tampa’s ace Blake Snell to give the Yankees the lead.
Now that the starting job appears to be his, it will be nice to hopefully see more of that in 2021.
Make it 3-0! Clint Frazier annihilates a double to center, driving in two. pic.twitter.com/5qWXkL4Fya
— Talkin’ Yanks (@TalkinYanks) March 21, 2021
Frazier is perhaps the biggest anomaly in the entire Yankees dugout. We’ve seen him do really good, and we’ve seen him do really bad. But you will see more consistent numbers if Boone lets him play over 100 games for the first time in his career this season.
I love Gardner just as much as the next person, but what is the point of keeping a young, talented player like Frazier on the team if you are not going to give him a full shot and see how he does?
Frazier would start in just about every other outfield in the MLB, and he has the potential to be a red-hot bat (no pun intended) towards the bottom of an already stacked Yankees lineup.
Across his four seasons in the majors, he has played a career 162 games, equivalent to one full season. He has hit 24 home runs and 82 RBI’s with a .258 batting average. Given the opportunity he now has in front of him; those numbers seem like a stable floor with obvious upside for more in 2021.
I’ve previously mentioned starters like Gerrit Cole and Luke Voit who are primed for solid 2021 campaigns. But when it comes to Clint Frazier, this is his first golden opportunity to prove himself to the team and to Yankee fans.
Even if the doubters who still don’t want him playing are right that Frazier is not as good as initially hoped, at least he was given the chance to prove himself.
I think Clint Frazier is here to stay, and I’m really excited to watch Red Thunder in 2021.