Cincinnati Reds: Could Todd Frazier Break the Team’s Home Run Record?

Following his breakout, All-Star 2014 season, some expected Cincinnati Reds’ third baseman Todd Frazier to regress a bit this year. After all, Frazier’s career-high in home runs was 20 (between Triple-A Louisville and Cincinnati in 2012) before he smacked 29 last season. Moreover, his batting average of .273 tied a career-best and his on-base percentage of .336 was also his highest in three full major league seasons. Given all that and the fact that he’s 29 years old, most major projections (ZiPS, Steamer) had his numbers declining in 2015.

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So far, Frazier has shown why preseason projections don’t mean much.

Through 48 games, Frazier is third in baseball with 16 home runs and is seventh in OPS at .996. Among all qualified third basemen, he ranks first in homers and OPS, second in stolen bases (6), fifth in batting average (.287), and second in fWAR (2.7).

Of course, what jumps out to everyone is the home run total. He’s hit four round-trippers in his last six games after a nine-game homer-less drought and seems like a lock for the Home Run Derby at this point. Additionally, Frazier could be on his way to making Reds history if he keeps up his current home run pace.

If you take into consideration that Frazier is hitting about .33 home runs per game and project that out over 161 games (he’s already missed one game), Frazier is on pace to hit 53.6 home runs this season. Since you can’t hit two-thirds of a home run, we’ll round that down to 53. If Frazier reaches that mark, it would break the Reds’ single-season home run record of 52, set by George Foster in 1977.

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Is it a long shot? Probably. It’s hard to project these numbers since you can’t account for off-days or injuries and on top of that, it seems likely that Frazier is going to cool off at some point. Last season is a perfect example of that, as he hit 10 home runs in the second half of the season after smacking 19 before the All-Star break. At his current pace, Frazier is averaging a home run every three games, which is hard to maintain for an entire season. As I mentioned earlier, he’s also never hit more than 29 home runs in a season so a jump to 53 doesn’t seem all that probable.

The odds seem stacked against that happening from a historical perspective as well, considering a 50+ home run season has only happened 43 times in Major League Baseball’s existence. Home run totals have also dropped off since the end of the Steroid Era, as only two players have hit 50 or more home runs since 2007 (Jose Bautista in 2010 and Chris Davis in 2013), when Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder both reached that number. But keep in mind that Bautista’s career-high before his 54 home runs in 2010 was only 16, so anything is possible.

Regardless of whether or not Frazier challenges Foster for the Reds’ home run record, there’s a good chance that Frazier could make Reds history in another way.

If he reaches 30 home runs, he’d become the first Reds third baseman to ever surpass that number. If he reaches 40 home runs, he’d be the just the ninth player in team history to hit that number and the first since Adam Dunn in 2007. And if he does manage to eclipse that elusive 50 home run milestone, Frazier’s 2015 season would go down as one of the best in the Reds’ 146-year history.

Next: Reds Top 10 Prospects Progress Report