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Clint Frazier has no guarantees with the Yankees

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As the top prospect recovers from an oblique strain, he’ll have to work his way back into consistent playing time.

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
Clint Frazier will have to prove he’s ready to earn back his starting job
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

When Clint Frazier made his major league debut on July 1 against the Houston Astros, he added a jolt of energy to the Yankees lineup. He managed to be a starting outfielder until he hit the disabled list on August 9. As he nears a full recovery, he’ll find that he needs to earn his innings all over again.

Frazier’s first week of major league experience was a thrilling success. In seven games, he batted .292 with three home runs, eight RBI, and a fantastic 1.183 OPS. This ability to get extra-base hits at a frequent pace in particular was what won over the coaching staff to place him in the everyday lineup.

The league quickly adjusted to Frazier’s aggressive swing, though. In the 21 games afterwards, he batted .230, hit one home run as his OPS dropped to .632. Clint mentioned that he had only been playing through the oblique strain for two days before the Yankees placed him on the disabled list, so this regression can’t be associated with the injury.

In the time between his injury and his imminent return, Aaron Hicks recovered, performed like his first half self, then got injured again. Jacoby Ellsbury has found some improvement in his play. Ellsbury’s utter lack of production in the first half of the season was as much a part in promoting Frazier to an everyday player as Frazier’s small sample size of success was, so Ellsbury finding his stride doesn’t bode well for Frazier.

There is some hope that the rookie can pull out of the funk he was in before his DL stint. His BABIP actually increased from .267 during his initial streak to .322 for the remainder of his season, signifying that he was still able to get the ball down when he hit it into play. The 30% strikeout rate and minuscule 5% walk rate has been the problem. Compare this to his numbers in the minors and it’s probable that he was pressing too much after his call up.

Once he is reactivated, Frazier figures to slot in immediately as the fourth outfielder. From there, he will have about two weeks left to make an impact. With Hicks’ injury at least making him questionable for the postseason, Frazier has a chance to nab a playoff roster spot. However, if he wants to earn back a starting job, he has an uphill climb to make.