Clint Frazier deserves better

“Clint has earned his place”

Aaron boone

That’s a direct quote from Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone back in February, via Bryan Hoch. Indeed, Clint Frazier deserves to be the starting left fielder for the Yankees. Especially after last season, when the 26 year-old was a shot in the arm for the 2020 club. He hit .267/.394/.511 (149 wRC+) in 160 plate appearances and unexpectedly played good defense.

And yet, Frazier has sat out three of the last five games. Unless he’s banged up, this is pretty unusual for a player named a starter. Sure, he hasn’t hit well so far. But who has? In fairness to Boone, Clint’s slow start (.200/294/.267, 65 wRC+) hasn’t been the manager’s reasoning. Rather, the skipper cited his desire to have a lefty in the lineup (Brett Gardner) over Frazier when the Yankees faced Chris Archer and Brent Honeywell/Michael Wacha last weekend.

Then, yesterday, Frazier was in the original lineup but not the final one. Once Toronto scratched Ross Stripling for TJ Zeuch, Boone swapped in Gardner for Frazier. Gardner singled against Zeuch last week, whereas Frazier struck out against him. Surely, that wasn’t the reason for the lineup change. Boone pointed to the different type of pitchers that Zeuch and Stripling are, for what it’s worth. Still, it’s weird.

So for the last five games, Frazier effectively has been on the short side of a platoon. Meanwhile, righties Michael Wacha and Tyler Glasnow will start the first two games of this weekend’s series against the Rays. It’ll be interesting to see how Boone constructs his lineup.

Keep in mind that Frazier hit righties (152 wRC+) better than lefties (141 wRC+) last season. His lifetime major league numbers indicate the same (112 vs. 107), so a straight platoon doesn’t really make sense in the first place. Now, I’m sure the Yankees have better internal metrics specifying the types of pitchers certain hitters fare well against, hence the decision to replace Frazier when Toronto made the change yesterday, I suppose.

Look, I like Gardner just as much as the next person. He keeps on producing in spite of folks writing him off annually. I’ve been one of those people before! He’s also off to a good start thus far at the plate: .286/.423/.381 (137 wRC+). But let’s be real here. Frazier is a better everyday player than Gardner at this stage of each players’ careers. Not to mention that Gardner has oddly hit third in the lineup twice already this season.

Now, Gardner definitely deserves to play a good deal. He can help with load management for Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge. I’m totally fine with him spelling Frazier against a really tough righty (like Glasnow this weekend, for instance). But it’s a little alarming that Boone felt the need to get Gardner in the lineup over Frazier because Zeuch — TJ freakin’ Zeuch — started yesterday. No disrespect, TJ.

If Frazier is the team’s starting left fielder, treat him like it. He’s already dealt with enough in his young career, from his concussion to being perennially parked in Scranton. Why are the Yankees handling him like this after just a couple of weeks of games? Frazier deserves better.

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15 Comments

  1. PLAY TEH KIDZ!

  2. MJC

    Agree 100%. Boone is just a puppet for the front office.

    • MikeD

      Boone is part of the front office as much as he’s the field manager. That’s the point of the manager’s position in today’s game. He has input.

  3. Don Arsenault

    Fraser has one of the fastest bat speed in the league and he could be another Mantle if they worked with him. He a unique player with a great future with or without the Yankees

  4. JiC

    I like Frazier too, but just being named a starter doesn’t entitle you to anything. At the end of the day, Gardner is the hot hand, and while it’s still incredibly early, the current tide isn’t going to change if you don’t have runners on base. Gardner is a competent alternative to a slow-starting Frazier. The same can’t be said about Odor or Bruce – who in particular shouldn’t even see another inning. As for Hicks, his spot in the order aside – despite his slump, who would argue that he hasn’t earned some extra rope? Does Frazier “deserve better” than a benched or platooned Hicks? That’s not even considering the defensive side of the argument.

    If Frazier feels offended and is angry about his playing time so far, that’s not a bad thing. He’s not the first young Yankee to have to prove himself again … and again … and again. If he continues to make the most of the chances he does get, or if the team rights the ship and has some consistency, he’ll be back in the lineup regularly and everything will be fine.

  5. Mungo

    Frazier will ultimately dictate his own playing time.

  6. Gerreddardit Cole

    Yes he does, Derek, and we deserve better too. Clint has done everything right. He has been patient. He was told he’d be the starter and Boone lied. That’s becoming a theme around here. Gardy is a great player but Clint needs to be starting and if Boone wants to get Gardy more playing time sit Hicks. I worry Boone is going to turn Clint into a platoon player so he can get a lefty bat to hit 3rd in the lineup. All he cares about is which side the player hits from. I just wish we were a forward thinking club rather than using strategies from 50 years ago. The Rays invented the shift and the opener and the best we can do is copy their innovations. Why can’t we think that way?

  7. Matt

    This is simple. Of course Frazier should be playing everyday. However, Boone is so soft and unwilling to ride anyone but Frazier that he’s an endless target. The Yankees are soft and careless in large part due to Boone.

  8. MikeD

    Clint’s been playing, just hasn’t been playing all that well in the early going. Start hitting and he’ll sit less. I expect Gardner to start about three times a week. Once for Frazier, once for Hicks, and once when either Judge or Stanton take a rest. That’s more than fine. If Clint can’t make that work and be productive, then maybe he shouldn’t be here. BTW I’m a fan of Frazier’s, but he’ll get plenty of playing time as long as he performs. That’s not asking too much.

    Now Bruce is another story. Odor too. The biggest issue here is Hal’s budget, which is forcing the Yankees to put sub-optimal players on the field. Wanted a quality lefty bat? They should have signed Brantley and moved Frazier in a package for a starter. That was a no-go because it didn’t fit the budget. That’s the real issue. They’re knowingly going into a season with a less-than-ideal roster. They could have improved on the margins.

    They’ll be fine, but it will remain a flawed team as long as Hal caps spending.

    • Aharon Goldwasser

      Mike D,
      This makes very little sense. Frazier has sat in three of the past five games. Has he started slowly? Sure, but outside of Judge and Sanchez, who on the team has been great? Statistically speaking, Hicks has been the worst three hitter in baseball. Outside of a three hit game last time out, Hicks has been terrible, yet he doesnt sit. Btw, thats not to mention that other than his big season a couple of years ago, Hicks hasnt produced all that much throughout his career. You are advocating that Frazier should either perform or sit. Thats a tough argument to make for two reasons. First, at the start of the season, many players start slow. It is unbelievably difficult to get any sort of rhythm going when you are constantly coming out of the lineup. Young guys need to play. Second, your logic doesnt seem to apply to the rest of the guys on the team. Why is Frazier the one guy who always gets singled out? The Yankees traded for him and yet, every step of the way, they seem to go out of their way to not play him. Makes very little sense.

      • MikeD

        Aharon, he has been playing. It’s not as if he’s sat on the bench all year. He has 30 PA’s. Hicks has 39 as does Judge. So he’s played a little less, but hardly alarmingly so, and most of his off game have come recently. I want to see him play, but I’m not buying the narrative that he “deserves” better. He’s going to get plenty of ABs, and the surest way for him to stay in the lineup is to cause damage when he gets those ABs.

    • Ted K

      +1
      I blame the self imposed budget more than anything else. Better lefthanded bats than Bruce were available.
      Given the budget silliness, playing time is reasonable. You have to play Bruce and Odor to see if you’re going to catch lightning in a bottle before you DFA them. Frazier is the odd man out a handful of games while we wait for the other shoe to drop on the scrap heap lefties.

  9. Yawn

    This team has really been no fun to watch so far compared to previous years. I’m tired of seeing Bruce and double plays.

  10. Brian M

    Teach Frazier how to play first! But then I’m sure he’ll still get benched for Bruce because we need his veteran leadership in the lineup.

    Seriously though, if they’re really making decisions on playing time based on 2 weeks of ABs then Bruce should be DFA.

  11. I am suspect it is not Boone’s decision. The Analytics Department and Cashman run the show. Over the last 2 years we have seen Boone devolve into a mouth piece for them. An example was his babble over sitting Frazier at the last minute in yesterday’s game. He can’t go “off script”.

    Cashman seems to have absolute control of the team. Seems the only restrictions on what he does is the amount of money he is given. Beyong that, it seems to me than Steinbrenner does not care and cannot be bothered. Corporate people making corporate decisions based on the bottom line, does not bode well for Yankee future.

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