Few people in our little extremely online corner of Yankee baseball are as happy about Clint Frazier’s 2020 success as I am. I’ll say it shamelessly that I’m a complete and total Stan for Frazier and likely always will be. Regardless of that, he’s played well in a time of need for the Yankees and has (hopefully) made himself indispensable for their future outfield plans. One thing that’s stood out about Clint’s performance this year has been an inflated walk rate.
After last night’s game against the Orioles, his walk rate is 14.9%, well over anything he’s produced at the Major League level. He racked up a 12.2% rate in 2018, but that was in just 15 games. This year’s sample isn’t huge–and won’t be, given the 60 game schedule–and could easily be a blip, an aberration, but for now, it’s a pattern I noticed and it’s worth digging into.
Below is his chase rate by pitch category per Statcast:
While we see an increase in his chase rate on fastballs, the rate has gone way down for both breaking and offspeed pitches. On breaking balls, he’s brought his chase rate down from 23.5% to 15.4. On offspeed pitches, the shift has been even more stark: 43.1% to 17.2%. Taking a look below at the percentage of pitch types that are out of zone, we can see a pattern:
Pitchers have greatly increased the percentage of breaking and offspeed pitches out of the zone against Frazer. Given his chase rates last year, that makes sense. They responded, but so has he by taking more and more of those pitches instead of chasing them.
If we break it down by zone, we see a logical extension of this. Pitchers in general aim to keep offspeed and breaking pitches low in the zone, even out of the zone to get hitters to chase. And in terms of out of zone pitches, Frazier has seen the most in the lower portions:
This is a pattern that repeated from last year. However, when it comes to swing rate, we see a change. Last year, he swung at 28% of pitches in the lower left out of zone area and 23% of pitches in the lower right out of zone area. Let’s take a look at this year:
He’s dropped his swings at both lower areas and that tracks with the pitch data from before. He’s laying off breaking and offspeed stuff out of the zone and it’s helping him generate more walks.
Given his history, I doubt Clint will keep up a 15% walk rate as the year goes on and into 2021. However, if he can add just a little bit of this to his game, he becomes even more dangerous at the plate.