I just watched Todd Frazier hit his 17th homerun of the year. It was an 86 mile an hour changeup from Jeff Samardzija about 3 inches inside. Frazier pulled his hands in close to his body and met the pitch well before it got to the plate. It didn’t look like much of a swing, but according to the Cubs broadcast it traveled about 426 feet.
Just the latest in a very impressive month being put together by the Reds rookie.
Since August 1, Frazier has a .328/.391/.603 slash line. He’s hit 4 HR with 14 RBI in 16 games. According to Fangraphs, he’s accumulated 0.8 WAR, good enough for 8th in the entire National League.
Frazier’s also started to establish himself as the predominant offensive candidate for National League Rookie of the Year. According to the aforementioned Fangraphs WAR statistic, Frazier’s biggest competition at the moment is Reds shortstop Zack Cozart (2.5 vs. 2.2). After Cozart is the Braves’ Andrelton Simmons and Martin Maldonado of the Brewers at 1.8. (And if you’re curious, Bryce Harper checks in just after at 1.7.)
On the pitching side, there’s Arizona’s Wade Miley (3.6) and Milwaukee’s Mike Fiers (2.9). It’s important to note though, that pitchers have an extra hurdle to overcome with it comes to the award: the voters. For whatever reason, it seems that when a pitcher and a position player both have excellent seasons, the tie goes to the position player. There are probably several factors involved, such as whether the player had an impact in a division race, but I think generally speaking the voters respond to seeing a player in the lineup day in and day out, as opposed to a starting pitcher who appears once every 5 games.
At any rate, WAR isn’t necessarily the best indicator of who will win the award (although it’s nice to get an indication of who’s provided the most value). Like most end of the year awards, voters are more likely to recognize offensive achievement, since it generally gets more publicity and is easier to measure.
In this arena, Frazier shows well. Among NL rookies, he’s 2nd in HRs (to Colorado’s Wilin Rosario), 1st in RBI, and 3rd in wOBA (and the 2 guys ahead of him, Josh Rutledge and Matt Carpenter, have many fewer at bats).
Perhaps Frazier’s greatest attribute, however, is the way he’s come to this team and filled in wherever he’s needed, and consistently produced. He’s done an outstanding job making up for the missed production of Joey Votto, and he’s playing a key role in what has become a highly achieving Reds team who is currently in control of the NL Central.
CBS Sports agrees, as their NL Rookie of the Year Watch lists Frazier and Miley as the “frontrunners”, and no one in the “also in the mix” list. To them, it’s a two man race, and assuming Frazier continues doing what he’s doing, I think Reds fans will be celebrating their first ROY award winner since 1999.
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