Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining Adam Frazier’s 2020 Season & Trade Value

Sep 24, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier (26) hits an RBI single against the Chicago Cubs during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier (26) hits an RBI single against the Chicago Cubs during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Second baseman Adam Fraizer struggled for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2020, and that could imapct his trade value this offseason.

During the 2020 season many players struggled for the Pittsburgh Pirates. One of these players was second baseman Adam Frazier. But what went wrong for the left-handed hitting Frazier in 2020?

Frazier hit for just a .230/.297/.364 slash line with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2020, to go wit ha wRC+ of just 81. All of these were career-lows for Frazier. Additionally, his 7.4% walk rate was the second-lowest of his career and his 15.2% strikeout rate was his worst season his debut season in 2016.

Obviously, a decreased walk rate and increased strikeout rate is not a recipe for success for any MLB hitter. These were not the only issues for Frazier in 2020, however. In addition to a drop in walks and increase in strikeouts, there were other red flags as well.

Frazier did not record much quality contact in 2020. His 85.5 MPH exit velocity was 3 MPH below the MLB average, and in the bottom 7% of baseball. Both his 4.0% barrel rate and 25.1% hard hit rate were below league average, checking in at the bottom 17% and bottom 3%, respectively, in baseball.

Even though it came across just 230 plate appearances in 58 games due to MLB’s COVID-19 shortened season, Frazier’s struggled undoubtedly impacted his trade value this past August. The Pittsburgh Pirates appeared determined to trade Frazier before the August 31st trade deadline.

On trade deadline day, it was reported that there was buzz around Frazier. However, this report included that teams were worried about his struggles and that this was negatively impacting his trade value.

It is understandable that this would impact his trade value. Frazier is a league average hitter in his career owning a lifetime 100 wRC+. League average wRC+ is exactly that, 100. So, a major drop off in quality contact and in turn results would worry teams.

Frazier’s defense, however, reamained strong in 2020. After being a National League Gold Glove finalsit in 2019, Frazier, at second base, posted a +4 Defensive Runs Saved and +6 Outs Above Average in 2020. In fact, his OAA ranked in the 98th percentile of baseball. Frazier may win the 2020 NL Gold Glove Award for second basemen in a runaway.

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The problem is teams want to trade for more than just defense. Frazier’s defense at seocnd base is elite, but his bat is league average at best. This could prove to drag his trade value down this offseason.

In order to maximize the return for Frazier in any potential trade, it may behoove the Pittsburgh Pirates to bring him back as the team’s second baseman for 2021. This would give Frazier the opportuntiy to improve his contact, and in turn his offense and trade value. Being under team control through 2022, playing one more half season with the Pirates would not hurt Frazier’s trade value on the team control front.

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