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Who is Clint Frazier’s best comp in baseball?

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A few comparisons shed light on Red Thunder’s batting profile.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

No young player has polarized the Yankees fanbase more than Clint Frazier. In the aftermath of the Andrew Miller trade, some felt the return proved too light. They wanted Miller back and poked holes in Frazier’s game. During the early parts of the 2017 season, a vocal contingent of fans believed Dustin Fowler to be the superior prospect.

Then Frazier made his major league debut and took the Yankees universe by storm. He put the legendary bat speed, as famously described by Brian Cashman, on full display. Across 142 plate appearances, he authored a .231/.268/.448 batting line with four home runs. An oblique injury shortened his campaign, but Frazier whet the fans’ appetites. A large number of observers expressed displeasure at the prospect of trading Red Thunder for Gerrit Cole. A few went so far as to name him a future MVP.

So, who is the real Clint Frazier? Is he a league average batter with a funky swing? Or is he something more, a rare talent ready to break out? To answer this, it makes sense to find a comparable player in the league. Finding the perfect comp for Frazier could help shed light on his offensive identity.

In order to generate a list of potential comps, I turned to last season’s underlying hitting numbers. Examining batting lines only gives you so much information, especially in a limited sample size. To get a read on the type of bat Frazier has, I pulled his average exit velocity (89.2 mph) and launch angle (13.7). From there, I generated a list of players with an average exit velocity between 88 mph and 90 mph, holding for a minimum of 50 batted ball events.

That list was predictably large, 129 batters to be exact. To further narrow the group, I eliminated every batter with an average launch angle below 13 and above 15.7. That trimming made a more manageable list, but it needed more refining. Part of Frazier’s game is his plate discipline; he managed to swing at just 27.20% of pitches out of the zone. That’s better than the league average mark of 30%. Anyone on the list with worse than league average plate discipline was then removed.

With those dimensions established, I felt that I had a strong list. To help fully even things out, I eliminated all exclusively left-handed hitters (Chris Davis and Travis Shaw). The final group of potential comps runs seven players long.

Clint Frazier’s Offensive Comps

Player Exit Velo Launch Angle Pull% Hard% Z-Swing% O-Swing%
Player Exit Velo Launch Angle Pull% Hard% Z-Swing% O-Swing%
Mookie Betts 88.4 mph 14.1 44.4% 35.7% 53.8% 22.1%
Welington Castillo 89.5 mph 14 41.1% 39.0'% 61.1% 28.4%
Dexter Fowler 88.6 mph 13.2 40.2% 38.1% 66.9% 24.8%
Clint Frazier 89.2 mph 13.7 41.3% 40.2% 75.5% 27.2%
Enrique Hernandez 88.2 mph 13.2 46.2% 39.4% 70.8% 27%
Andrew McCutchen 88.4 mph 14.2 42.7% 35.2% 67.9% 25%
Wil Myers 89.1 mph 15.2 42.4% 41.4% 64.3% 29%
Jose Ramirez 88.4 mph 14.7 46.3% 34% 66.6% 25.4%

How about that for an interesting list? It ranges from a mostly average bat in Welington Castillo to a former MVP in Andrew McCutchen. That fits right in line with the fan spectrum. Frazier could either be a serviceable, average hitter or an elite force at the plate. Yet which one is he?

The key to unlocking the secret could be in his swing. Frazier has a peculiar set of batting mechanics. His swing can best be described as off-balanced. As he makes contact, his back leg loses touch with the ground. This is on full display in a batting cage video he posted to Twitter.

Most batters generate power from driving their front leg, then firmly planting their back one. Frazier doesn’t have that level of stability underneath him. While some observers have raised criticism over this approach, it has worked for him so far.

As it turns out, a player on the list of comprables has an eerily similar swing, and that’s Wil Myers. The Padres first baseman-turned-outfielder picked up the habit a few seasons ago and has maintained it ever since. Once he makes contact with the ball, his back leg leaves the ground.

This slow motion clip does a nice job of illustrating that point. No matter the angle, it’s clear that the pair share a wobbly back leg when swinging.

So, if Frazier’s best comp is Myers, what does that mean? Well, that’s not a bad thing. Myers hasn’t exactly lived up to his billing as a top prospect, not since his 129 wRC+ rookie campaign with the Rays. He hasn’t been bad either, though. Last season he hit .243/.328/.464 with 30 home runs. That would play fine in any lineup.

The comparison just means that expecting Frazier to be a MVP-caliber bat is optimistic. As things stand, he projects as an above average batter with good power. The Yankees don’t need him to be a superstar. In a lineup filled with the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez, a talented yet flawed hitter is perfectly acceptable.

That said, the Yankees have worked with Frazier on his swing. On a few occasions, it seemed like he was nearing a breakthrough. “I knew what I was doing wrong; I didn’t know how to fix it. I didn’t know where to start,” Frazier told the New York Times last July. “I was searching for a key word, or a feeling where I could repeat that motion every single time.”

If he could plant that back leg, then it’s not out of line to envision a major leap in production. This makes a lot of sense considering the other names on the list of comparable batters. Even if he doesn’t make the change, though, Frazier has demonstrated he’s capable of being a highly productive major leaguer.

Since joining the organization, Frazier has found himself at the center of unfair observations. People either wrote him off or burdened him with too lofty expectations. His real talent is most likely in the middle, as a productive, yet not otherworldly, bat. Assuming the Yankees hang on to him, they have a very nice player on their hands.