Thinking Inside the Box

Todd Frazier… MVP (?)

Todd Frazier, you may have noted, is having himself a year. He is, in fact, having so much of a year that he is on pace to generate more than six wins above replacement. He is near the top of the league in numerous offensive categories, including home runs where he is third.

He has, in short, put himself in position to receive some MVP votes. No, he is not the MVP (that’s Tulo unless things change radically), but he’s been so good that it’s easy to imagine him placing in the top ten or so.

But is this a reality or not? I know we’ve written here at RN about Frazier already, but for this week’s column I thought it was a good idea to look at him as closely as I could and try to find the fly in the ointment. After all, his 2.7 fWAR in only 68 games has already passed his total from 2012 and is quickly gaining on last year’s 3.3.

It is, in short, more than anyone expected. I recently wrote about how I misjudged Billy Hamilton’s abilities. Frazier is also performing much better than I expected. Was I wrong about him?┬áLet’s take a look.

Looking at his basic numbers, we see that his average is up and his slugging is up. HIs ISO is at a career high level, as well, so the slugging improvement isn’t all batting-average driven. His BABIP is also right around league average after a big dip last year. That is, we should have expected some improvement because his BABIP was so low last year, but his ISO shows us that there’s something else going on here.

Looking at his power numbers, it’s clear that most of the gain comes from his increase in home runs. Is HR/FB% is 21.3 this year. That’s well above both his previous numbers and league average, but it’s not beyond the level sustained by most top power-hitters.

If we drill down still a little deeper we find, I think, the last thing we can find. Todd Frazier isn’t swinging as much at pitches outside the strike zone. Pitch f/x has him swinging at 31.9% of pitches outside the zone. Last year, he was swinging at 35.2%. That’s a significant difference, and it tells us that at least some of the change we’ve seen with Frazier is real.

So was I wrong about Todd Frazier? Yes, I think I was. However, I still expect him to regress a little bit, at least where his power is concerned. He might not, but his ISO is beyond any previously seen levels. Still, his BABIP is where it should be after a down year, and his plate discipline is noticeably better. Even if he does regress some (as I think he will), he has shifted the conversation. He no longer looks like a 3-4 win player so much as a 4-5 win player with a 6 WAR season being a real possibility. In a thus far disappointing season, that’s something to smile about.

13 thoughts on “Todd Frazier… MVP (?)

  1. I know there’s no numbers to back it up, but SuperTodd is a guy you can tell what he’s thinking just by the look on his face, and his face when he’s batting this year shows a much more serious competitive look, a look you wouldn’t want to encounter in a dark alley at night. This guy is ready to compete day in day out. Not that Bruce and Phillips don’t compete, but I don’t get that same consistent sense of purpose from them at the plate, you know?

    I do like how we’re assembling a team of intense guys—Bailey/Latos/Votto/BHam/Mez/Frazier. We could use a Grant Balfour-type in the bullpen, though.

    • I have also noticed a change in Frazier’s whole demeanor. He is still a very lovable guy who likes to have a good time, but he seems much more focused than in past years. I noticed it when he got moved up in the order to the 2/3 spot. He’s a very intense guy, looks much more confident, and seems like he wants to carry this team. Maybe it’s being a new father, but we are seeing a big change in maturity this year from Super Todd.

  2. He’s an all star in every sense of the word this season. He’s been the best and most consistent hitter on the team so far and one of the few bright spots so far. Hopefully he can keep it up. He’s very intense and plays hard as nails. Great guy having a great year.

  3. The thing I have especially noticed about Frazier’s power this year is just how far his home runs are traveling. He has hit some very long home runs this season, no doubters where the outfielders barely even turn around.

    • I’ve noticed that. Marty said last night that Cutch “took one step to his right” and turned to watch it go. He is a seriously strong man. We have seen what he can do one handed and off balance. If he is at the point of consistently getting the best swing on a ball, it will fly a loooooong way.

  4. Until this year, Frazier was vulnerable to low, outside sliders, and he has done wonders in curing that weakness. I don’t believe the power is a fluke; when he hits one (like last night’s ball), it stays hit.

    They need to lock up his arbitration years, if not more. He is fast becoming the face of the franchise.

  5. The thing that makes me optimistic about Frazier’s power is that he does not need to pull the ball. As mentioned, he clearly has improved at not flailing at sliders 2 feet outside and low. But, the effect has been that he can drive the not quite as far outside pitches out to center. Cozart is often pitched similarly, but has no HR power because he needs it inside to pull.

  6. No one is a bigger ToddFather fan than the Old Cossack. No one took more exception than the Old Cossack to the shaft he received in 2012 when he was omitted from the 25-man roster on the last day of spring training after earning a spot on the 25-man roster. With that said, Frazier is not an MVP candidate, but he may be the best 3B playing MLB right now. The ToddFather can certainly (and deservedly) win a silver slugger and gold glove for his work at 3B. An all star selection should be a lock, but he won’t be voted by the fans and may miss the manager’s selection in favor of a less deserving 3B. That would be a travesty rivaling Cueto’s snub.

    I truly believe this season is probably lost to the Reds, but I will hold out hope for as long as a reasonable hope exists. What I’m really looking forward to is for great things rolling into GABP for 2015 with Winker laying claim and taking over LF. This completely revamps the lineup for 2015 with the opportunity to position the best hitters where they can do the most damage.

    CF Hamilton
    LF Winker
    3B Frazier
    1B Votto
    C Mesoraco or RF Bruce
    RF Bruce or C Mesoraco
    2B Phillips
    SS Cozart

    After a fabulous personal season in 2014, the lineup could allow the ToddFather (along with everyone else) to put up monster offensive numbers in 2015 and finally get Frazier the league-wide recognition he deserves. I wouldn’t mind a contract extention for Frazier, but not beyond buying out 2 years of FA (preferably as team options). Somehow, David Wright and Chase Headley seem outdated and I hope Headley and Panda land huge overpays during FA this offseason while Cincinnati sits comfortably with the ToddFather at 3B for at least the next 4 seasons.

  7. MVP talk is always some heavy talk. I could see him being in the mix. However, I don’t think it will be anything significant.

    The thing is, let’s see how the season unfolds further first. We were just at 500 ball for the season as well as 2-3 games out of the WC spot. Just a couple of games ago, people were talking about how the Reds should give up, how they aren’t doing things, etc. Now, there is MVP talk? Let’s see how the season unfolds first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s