Does Adam Frazier Have A Future As An Everyday Player?
Adam Frazier made his Major League debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 24th. And since making his debut Frazier has been one of the Pirates’ best hitters.
Even though Adam Frazier only has 119 career plate appearances he is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Pittsburgh. And this is happening for good reason. Because through this first 119 plate appearances Frazier has done nothing but hit.
During his short time in the Major Leagues Adam Frazier has hit both right-handed and left-handed pitching well. He has also played a variety of positions for Clint Hurdle and the Pirates. But, is he capable of being an everyday player at the Big League level?
Through his first 119 plate appearances Frazier owns a .339/.395/.477/.872 slash line to go along with a .377 wOBA and a 139 wRC+. Frazier also has a 7.6 percent walk rate, 16.0 percent strikeout rate, a .138 ISO, and a WAR of 1.3. Most impressive though are his 31.1 percent hard contact rate and 34.4 percent line drive rate.
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So far in his Major League career Adam Frazier has not just made a lot of contact, but he has made a lot of hard contact. The higher a hitter’s contact rate is then, naturally, the more base hits they will get. This holds especially true when both their hard contact rate and line drive rate are over 30 percent like Frazier’s are.
Adam Frazier’s game also features a speed element. He has rated as an above average base runner, according to FanGraphs, with a 1.1 BsR. He has also stolen four bases so far in his Major League career.
The fact Adam Frazier has hit so well at the Major League level should come as no surprise. This is because Frazier has always hit. He hit well in high school, he hit well in college at Mississippi State, and he hit well in the Minor Leagues.
In 1,520 career Minor League plate appearances Adam Frazier owned a .299/.363/.370/.733 slash line, an 8.3 percent walk rate, and a 10.6 percent strikeout rate. This came on the heels of a college career that saw Frazier lead the NCAA in hits with 107 as a junior, and get named MVP of the SEC as a sophomore. In high school, Frazier set a new Georgia state record with 53 doubles. So, yeah, Adam Frazier has always been able to hit.
However, the one thing that has held Frazier back is his defense. Adam Frazier is a man without a position in the field. In the Minor Leagues he played outfield, shortstop, third base, and second base. In the Majors he has played all of these positions minus shortstop.
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So far at the Major League level Adam Frazier has played left field, right field, third base, and second base. Frazier has logged 72 1/3 innings at second base, 64 2/3 innings in right field, 63 innings in left field, and 18 innings at third base in 2016. So, much like in the Minor Leagues, Frazier has been primarily a second baseman at the Major League level.
Second base has also been the best defensive position for Frazier. As a second baseman this season Frazier owns a UZR/150 of 14.4. While as an outfielder his UZR/150 is higher, 27.0, he also has negative defensive runs saved. Furthermore, two of his three errors have come in the outfield. And anyone who watches Adam Frazier play the outfield knows the routes he takes to balls needs a lot of work.
Due to all of this, Adam Frazier’s best defensive position in the Major Leagues is second base. While he can definitely make it in the Majors as a super utility player. If he ever wants to be an everyday player, it would have to be at second base.
Finally, there is Frazier’s ability to hit both right and left handed hitting. As you would expect as a left-handed hitter, Adam Frazier has hit right-handed pitching very well this season. In 102 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers Frazier owns a .301/.368/.462/.830 slash line, 7.8 percent walk rate, .356 wOBA, and a 125 wRC+.
Even though it is in a very small sample size, Frazier has been ever better against left-handed pitching this season. In just 17 plate appearances Frazier is slashing .563/.588/.563/1.151. He also owns a .505 wOBA and a 225 wRC+.
It is impossible to make any kind of evaluation on a player based off of just 17 plate appearances. In fact, it is foolish to even attempt to do so. However, when looking at Frazier’s Minor League stats you see he has always hit left-handed pitching well.
During his Minor League career Adam Frazier compiled 415 plate appearances against left-handed pitching. In these 415 plate appearances he slashed .288/.349/.352/.701 with a 6.2 percent walk rate and a strikeout rate of just 11.5 percent. While these numbers are not great, they are more than good enough to start against left-handed pitching on a regular basis.
There is also reason to believe that the more Adam Frazier faces left-handed pitching the more he will improve against lefties. That is due to the fact that this is what happened in the Minor Leagues. After hitting over .300 against left-handed pitching in 2013 his average dropped to .233 in 2014. However, each year since he has watched as all of his offensive numbers against left-handed pitching improved each season.
In my opinion, Adam Frazier could have a future as an everyday player in the Major Leagues. This would be as a second base man, and, due to his speed and ability to get on base, he would make a good lead off hitter that can set the table for an offense as well. Should the Pirates look to trade Josh Harrison this offseason in order to make this happen? That is something I will look at later this week.