Todd Frazier: Buy or Avoid Entirely?

The 2016 performance of Todd Frazier was something of an enigma. Or was it?

While he flashed his typical brand of power and (it’s with extreme reluctance that I even mention this) turned in a solid RBI total, he also featured a slash with a .225 average and .302 on-base percentage, both of which were among the worst at the third base position. His strikeout rate, at 24.5%, was the highest of his career. Those are certainly factors that will cause some prospective owners to shy away moving forward.

At the same time, there are other elements of Frazier’s game that still leave him as one of the more intriguing players that the hot corner has to offer. While some may shy away, others will jump at the opportunity to get that kind of power into their lineup, even with the potential drawbacks. With that in mind, what’s the correct course of action in regard to Todd Frazier?

Frazier’s power is without question. It’s always been there.

His ISO has tended to be well above league average, especially in the last two seasons. His .239 mark was 22nd in the league among all qualifying position players in 2016, while a .242 mark in 2015 put him in 14th among that group. With home run totals of 35 and 40 in the last two seasons, respectively, the power game is going to be the primary motivation in those that target Frazier as a corner infield piece.

But what about the shortcomings in his game? He barely reached base at a .300 clip and saw his Hard% drop by six percent from his 2015 mark, down to 31.3%. With less hard contact and a 48.7% flyball rate (the second consecutive year it’s been in the high-40’s), it’s no wonder that his batting average on balls in play came in at a minuscule .236. His overall contact rate has been under 75% in two of the last three seasons. That type of trend could be somewhat concerning moving forward.

It’s not as if Frazier’s OBP woes are anything new, though. The 2013 season saw him go for a mark of only .314. In 2015, he came in at .309 before posting that .302 OBP in 2016. So he’s never been the type to showcase high on-base skills. Does that make his brutal-even-by-his-standards 2016 somewhat acceptable on the fantasy side, then? It might. We’re talking about a player whose game is predicated around power. As long as he can continue to get the ball over the wall, something that should continue to be possible given his extreme pull tendencies in a favorable hitter’s park, he’s going to maintain value.

What’s interesting about Frazier is that even with those glaring deficiencies in his game, in terms of the average and on-base struggles, he’s still being drafted in a reasonably favorable position. ADP numbers have him as high as 41 and as low as 99, coming in at an average spot of 74.02. That comes in front of names like Adrian Beltre, Alex Bregman, Jose Ramirez, and Evan Longoria. Bregman’s something of a wild card and Ramirez relies so heavily on batting average, that there’s some sense there, but Beltre and Longoria after Frazier come across as surprises, to an extent. Both players have higher Off ratings and finished 28 points and 21 points higher, respectively, higher than Frazier on the park-adjusted offense side of things.

The outlook for Frazier doesn’t look great in regard to his average and on-base rates. Obviously. His flyball tendencies, combined with a lower-than-preferred contact rate, and potentially decreasing Hard% don’t exactly lend themselves to a favorable BABIP and subsequent voyages on the basepaths. But what Frazier does have working in his favor are the counting stats that can be so crucial on the fantasy side. In terms of those counting stats, Frazier should continue to demonstrate steady input and be a valuable fantasy option. He’s hit 75 homers over the last two seasons, knocked in 187 runs, and stole 28 bases. Those elements alone make him a player worth owning.

And it’s because of those elements that Todd Frazier will continue to be a heavily pursued option at the hot corner. If you can get your average and on-base from other pieces, depending on roster construction, then it becomes somewhat worth it to potentially punt those categories with a Frazier selection. Does that mean he should be taken over the likes of Beltre, Longoria, or even Anthony Rendon, as early draft results have indicated (and between you and I, I’d rather not take him over Alex Bregman)? It’s hard to make a case in favor of that. But when you’re talking about those counting stats, Frazier can be a valuable asset.

It’s a matter of perspective, really. If overall roster construction can compensate for some of those shortcomings for Frazier, then he’s absolutely a worthy target at the hot corner, thanks to counting stats. But even then, it’s still extremely difficult to rationalize him as one of the seven best players at the position, as the early ADP results would indicate.

 





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jmor1717
Member
jmor1717

In a 5×5, Frazier is very valuable, he contributes a solid 4 categories, like any of the other top options. From 2016 numbers, for nearly any 3B beside Bryant you are “punting” a category. I would argue that SBs are harder to make up than batting average, so I would take the .225 w/ 15SB over a .300 w/ 1SB (Beltre)

CJ311NYM
Member
CJ311NYM

You can’t buy Frazier at his age for SB. And the Avg is defiantly going to be bad. He seems like an overpriced 1 trick pony to me.