Though he only has about two full seasons worth of playing time, Todd Frazier has already had an interesting career. He started as a super-utility player, filled in heavily for Rolen and Votto when they were injured, and now he finally has his own starting job out at the hot corner. Let’s look at what I think Hot Toddy will do this year…
2013 Slash Line: .234/.314/.407
2014 Projection: .245/.330/.430
2013 WAR: 3.0 (BBRef & FanGraphs average)
2014 Best Guess WAR: 3.5
Projected Difference: +0.5 WAR
2014 Floor: 1.5 WAR
2014 Ceiling: 4.5 WAR
I feel like I often end up in arguments with people who don’t think I’m liberal enough in my Todd Frazier praise. I find myself painted as overly-pessimistic, and I don’t know why. What I see is a late-blooming player currently in his prime who seems to be a bit above average and has decline coming soon. He’s a lot like Chris Sabo, actually. Though Todd has been healthier and not quite as good as Sabo was in his first few years.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Frazier is a very solid major league player who absolutely deserves a starting job. But he’s not a world beater and he’s not an offensive juggernaut.
Todd has had come bad luck, though. His average on balls in play last year was low enough that we should expect some bounce back this year, and that’s where the improved offensive numbers come from above. Add it to his already very good fielding, and you have a solid player. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Todd had the third best OBP on the team, and he may also rank third or fourth in slugging.
What the Reds have in Frazier is a good player who should still be good this year (and another year or two into the future), but who has issues with his swing/control of the strike zone that will prevent him from ever being great. It is possible that things could fall right and he could end up with an all-star caliber season, but the best bet is for a modest improvement over his 2013 numbers due to a little better luck rather than to any improvements in his actual performance.
Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.