When you follow the team on a daily basis, you can’t help but notice how streaky the players are. Curtis Granderson always got off to slow starts and you could usually count on him to have a period in the middle of the year where he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Wilson Ramos had a three-week stretch early in the season where he was worse than Granderson. And of course last year we mentioned the six-week hot stretches of numerous guys that were completely out of whack with anything they did before or since.
Which brings us to Todd Frazier. For whatever reason, most people don’t really like Frazier and will not shed a tear when he’s playing elsewhere next season. But right now, Frazier is on a hot streak and before we kick him out the door, we should at least recognize what he’s doing at the plate while the Mets are trying to complete an improbable comeback to go from 11 games under .500 to a Wild Card berth.
In his last 15 games, Frazier has a .349/.440/.791 line for a 1.231 OPS in 50 PA. Nine of his 15 hits have gone for extra-bases and he’s augmented his line with 4 BB and 3 HBP, too. He was removed from last night’s game after getting plunked. While x-rays were negative, here’s hoping there’s no undiagnosed structural problem and that this doesn’t cut short his current terrific performance.
This isn’t the first hot streak this season for Frazier. And his first stretch of good hitting went on for a lot longer than 15 games. From May 16 to June 30, a span of 173 PA, Frazier put up a .302/.399/.537 line, good for a .936 OPS. But as it happened during a stretch where the Mets were playing their worst ball of the season, few noticed his strong performance, which saw 17 of his 45 hits go for extra-bases.
Of course, Frazier has a .757 OPS this year, which means we’ve seen some poor production along the way, too. And these ugly stretches it seems are what the majority of fans remember. No one looks good when they’re struggling. But Frazier might look even worse than the average hitter when he’s lost at the plate.
At the end of 2018, Frazier looked horrible and it wouldn’t have been a surprise if you said his career was just about over. He batted .143 with a .555 OPS over his final 103 PA and the memory of that span was him doing his best Ike Davis impression and flailing at pitches a foot or more out of the strike zone. He was so bad that the Mets acquired two guys in the offseason to play third base and relegate him to the bench.
But Frazier caught a break when Jed Lowrie missed most of the year to injury and when J.D. Davis looked bad defensively when he was inserted at third base. While Frazier was hit or miss with the bat, at least he didn’t double or triple pump when removing the ball from his glove before making a throw to a base. Additionally, Jeff McNeil, who looked so poor at first in the outfield, quickly became adequate out there, meaning the Mets didn’t have to play him in the infield to get him reps. The planets aligned for Frazier to get another chance.
Frazier missed the beginning of 2019 with an oblique injury. He didn’t make his season debut until April 22 and he didn’t start hitting until the middle of May. And after his initial hot streak to the year ended, Frazier went into the tank just about when the Mets began to take off in the second half of the season. But now he’s hitting and fielding, and with the return of guys from the IL, the Mets finally have the deep roster they envisioned in the offseason.
With both Davis and Lowrie under contract for next year, it’s almost a sure thing that this will be Frazier’s last season with the Mets. And that’s okay – this isn’t a plea for the Mets to re-sign him. Rather this is asking that in years to come when you remember Frazier’s tenure with the Mets, just don’t write him off with a one-word response.
When you think of Frazier, you should remember his little hand gestures after he got a hit that everyone else adopted, from last year’s pepper grinder to this year’s wiggling horn thing. Recall him pointing into the dugout on his way down the line after hitting a homer and then checking his watch when he reached second on his HR trot. Remember his propensity to have the bat come flying out of his hands when he got fooled on a pitch. Keep in mind how he adjusted his batting helmet up and down more than any other player. And always keep that one-hand follow thru on his home run ball in your memory.
And may he provide us with a few more big hits and memorable moments the last 14 games of the season.