Jake Fraley has been a pleasant surprise for the Cincinnati Reds in his brief tenure with the organization. Fraley was a bit of an unknown commodity last year after coming over from the Seattle Mariners.
Fraley was only able to play in 68 games in 2022 due to injury, but showed flashes of potential. The 28-year-old put up solid numbers to begin his 2023 campaign, but a stress fracture midway through the season really put a damper on second season in he Queen City.
Fraley valiently attempted to play hurt once he returned from the IL, but it was obvious that the slugger was not at full strength. So what kind of grade should Fraley receive for his performance during the 2023 season?
Reds report card: Grading Jake Fraley's unfinished 2023 season
First off, let me just say that there'll be "I" for incomplete on this year's Cincinnati Reds report cards. So, limited or not, Jake Fraley put on that uniform and stepped onto the field. For that, I give him credit, but he's not going to get a free pass.
Still, Fraley's overall numbers for what amounts to him playing as a platoon outfielder were quite good. Against right-handed pitching, Fraley did was Fraley does - he raked! Fraley hit .268/.348/.467 against right-handed pitching.
However, when battling lefties, which wasn't that often, Fraley slashed just .147/.268/.235. With numbers like that, you can tell why Reds manager David Bell preferred to platoon Fraley with other players like Nick Senzel and Stuart Fairchild.
After returning from the injured in early-September, Jake Fraley's first two starts as the team's DH showed the Reds what they were missing without his bat in the lineup. However, the rest of month saw Fraley hit just .132/.250/.158 with only five hits in 44 at-bats.
Before his stint on the IL, Fraley posted an OPS of .813 with a wRC+ of 114 and 10.1-percent walk-rate according to FanGraphs. Fraley had jsut one error in the field all season, but was worth -4 defensive runs saved (DRS). It's fair to say that Fraley probably grades out as an average defender.
The biggest flaw in Jake Fraley's game, and some fans will laugh at this, is his average exit velocity. Fraley's exit velo, according to Baseball Savant, ranks in the bottom one percentile of the league.
Fraley is a solid all-around player, and one who should definitely be part of the Cincinnati Reds 2024 Opening Day roster. The Reds' brass would do well to bring in a right-handed hitting outfielder to platoon with Fraley next season.