The Yankees called up top prospect Clint Frazier on Saturday night. To the surprise of no one, his promotion provoked a number of inconsequential stories. The collective focus of the national media outlets zeroed in on Frazier’s personality and the way he carries himself off the field. Sure, there’s the occasional mention of his electric bat speed or impressive power, but most of the conversation centers on attitude.
This coverage isn’t new for Frazier. He’s dealt with it since arriving after the Andrew Miller trade last July. First there was criticism over his social media use, followed by a mountain of articles over the length of his hair and the Yankees’ grooming policy. Plus, who could forget the erroneous story spread by Suzyn Waldman that Frazier asked for Mickey Mantle’s retired number.
The takes didn’t get much following his call-up. For example, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post for wrote this a few hours after news of Frazier’s promotion broke:
Frazier is one of a kind and that is a good thing, but he will join a club that is playing together, and that must continue.
If Frazier just follows Aaron Judge’s lead, he will have no problem.
Judge sets the tone for this team in every way and Friday night Judge reached base safely for the 32nd consecutive game, tying the longest such streak in the majors this season.
Ah, yes, just do everything like Judge, the towering superstar and early MVP candidate. The interesting part of this quote, however, is its aim. Kernan alluded to Judge’s performance, but what he’s really after is his personality. They love his quiet confidence, his leadership, the way he never says anything controversial. On more than one occasion, the national media has compared Judge to Derek Jeter. They want Frazier follow that lead.
Pinstripe Alley’s Greg Kirkland recently pointed out the hilarity in reporters lauding Jeter with praise. After all, they frequently complained that he gave them nothing with which to work. Christian Red of the New York Daily News relayed that he “...perfected the art of the non-answer in media interviews during his 20-year baseball career with the Yankees, never divulging too much nor treading near anything the slightest bit controversial.”
Fans aren’t immune to harsh generalizations of Frazier either. Take a quick look through Twitter or in the comment section. There are plenty of posts questioning his maturity. Some believe that his prospect stock has fallen accordingly. Allow me to say that it has not.
The levels of criticism that Frazier generates is mind-boggling. With his bat speed and charisma, he should be a superstar, a folk hero even. Instead, some people prefer the vanilla corporate blandness of the Yankees organization. The constant shellacking he receives is especially unfair considering he’s a generous young man with great character. It’s okay for players to break out of the boring mold, show some personality, and have fun. Baseball is a game after all.
Perhaps his impressive play will change some minds. He hit a rocket of a double and a laser home run during his debut. If he performs, fans will come along. There’s no doubt about that. It’s just a shame that so much time was wasted criticizing him for his personality.