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Adam Frazier Has Been Interesting So Far

Adam Frazier is a Pittsburgh Pirate. He’s additionally been good, which suggests contending groups will look to accumulate him on the commerce deadline. What group wouldn’t need an above-average defender who’s additionally hitting .330/.397/.463? To provide that one other spin, his 137 wRC+ is third-best amongst second basemen with 300 or extra plate appearances, proper behind Max Muncy and Jose Altuve.

However you might need visited his FanGraphs web page, scrolled to the numbers, and seen a crimson flag – that Frazier’s .366 BABIP is irregular, contemplating his profession earlier than this season. That’s not all: There are vital variations between his precise stats and Baseball Savant’s anticipated stats, akin to slugging share and batting common. He’s hit simply 4 barrels up to now, none of them surpassing the 110 mph mark.

So sure, it does look like Frazier is biting off greater than he can chew. However I feel we are able to do higher than the boy who cried regression as a result of, properly, what if he’s doing one thing new that’s contributing to his larger BABIP? The second baseman has all the time been one to make constant contact whereas minimizing whiffs, so it’s believable he’s unlocked a brand new gear. Again in Could, I broke down Freddie Freeman’s uncharacteristically low BABIP by batted ball sort, so let’s do the identical for Frazier. The place is he getting his cash’s value? And in comparison with the league common, the place is he falling behind?

BABIP by Batted Ball Kind, 2021

Batted Ball Kind Frazier BABIP League BABIP Diff.
Groundball .304 .231 .073
Line Drive .637 .678 -.041
Fly Ball .173 .113 .060

These numbers are from our Splits Leaderboards, and so they inform an intriguing story. Frazier is worse than common relating to line drives, which is likely to be due to his middling energy – a weak liner is normally an computerized out. Regardless of this, he’s making up for misplaced manufacturing by way of grounders and… fly balls? That’s odd. Someway, Frazier’s fly balls aren’t leaving the ballpark or being caught by outfielders. As an alternative, they’re touchdown for hits.

Even weirder – and that is the one factor he’s been good at – is how he’s picked up these further factors of BABIP. Though Frazier has hit a few doubles off the wall, they don’t account for almost all of his fly balls. Apart from, how standard. This proper right here is extra of Frazier’s forte, a blooper that finds a candy spot in entrance one outfielder:

Or one which gracefully lands between three outfielders:

And so forth. There are lots of extra. Is this extra proof that confirms Frazier’s first-half luck? In all probability. However we’d be remiss to imagine that is exactly why his anticipated stats are decrease. If something, a metric like xwOBA, which includes info from prior seasons to estimate the success of a batted ball, appreciates this bloop-fest.

To elaborate, think about a ball hit at an angle of 40 levels or extra. How can a hitter maximize his manufacturing on it? First, there’s the clear possibility of hitting the ball exhausting, although he must surpass the standard 95 mph hard-hit threshold, and after a sure launch angle, exit velocity makes no distinction. The second possibility is extra obscure, but additionally works: Hit the ball at simply the proper mixture of exit velocity and launch angle. We are able to visualize this, too. Right here’s each single 40-plus diploma ball from 2020, plotted by exit velocity and xwOBA:

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As anticipated, on the tail finish are Mike Zunino-esque moonshots that no person would doubt. However then we arrive on the center bunch of factors which have fashioned a hill of their very own. These are the balls anticipated to have a average quantity of success, as a result of they traditionally have – not too exhausting, not too weak, and with sufficient loft. On this case, an exit velocity of 80 mph is extra detrimental than an exit velocity of 70 mph, which is downright foolish (and superior).

This was, in actual fact, my start line earlier than arriving at Adam Frazier. I started to surprise who had probably the most fly balls within the second, very best vary, and my search yielded the next outcomes:

Kings of the Bloopers, 2021

There’s Frazier on prime, near a teammate, and with by far the best BABIP of the bunch. He’s been the best possible at this one particular factor. However that Arenado has no hits whereas Frazier has seven reveals how fickle some of these batted balls are – the plot from earlier options quite a few factors with near-zero xwOBA – and that anticipated stats are descriptive rather than predictive. Arenado’s lack of success doesn’t imply his future bloopers usually tend to land for hits. In an identical vein, we are able to’t say that Frazier’s abundance of success will right itself. It’s fully attainable his fortune lasts a whole season!

That leaves us with Frazier’s groundballs, which have additionally maintained a higher-than-usual BABIP. The excellent news is that at a look, spray charts recommend he’s making an effort to go the opposite means, at the least extra typically than earlier than. Although this might have been a contented accident, right here’s Frazier making life troublesome for the Braves’ infield:

A batted ball like that’s a good way to outperform one’s anticipated stats. Opposing groups appear to have caught on; they utilized the shift in 30.6% of Frazier’s plate appearances final season, a fee that’s dwindled to 17.8% this season. However it doesn’t appear to have made a lot of a distinction – there’s a negligible distinction between his wOBA in opposition to shifts (.360) and in opposition to non-shifts (.378). Frazier has additionally elevated his fee of contact, whether or not that be in opposition to pitches inside or outdoors the zone. He’s setting himself up for achievement higher than in earlier seasons.

But when there’s a cause to be pessimistic, it’s as a result of Frazier’s groundballs have benefited from yet one more issue. Right here’s an instance of what I imply:

Trying to throw out Frazier is utility man Jace Peterson, whose throw is in the end just a little too sluggish. It’s not a routine play, certain, however I can’t shake the sensation that the result would have been completely different with Kolten Wong concerned. Maybe this can be a clearer depiction:

Now, that is on the primary baseman – 9 occasions out of 10, he scoops up the ball and flips it to the pitcher masking the bag. Frazier was awarded a success since technically no error was dedicated, however no discerning baseball fan would ever consider he deserves all of the credit score. As you might need guessed, the 2 clips tie into an even bigger pattern. Think about the standard of infield protection Frazier has confronted in every season of his profession:

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Per Outs Above Common, a cumulative metric no much less, the infield he’s at present hitting into is by far the worst. Assuming {that a} -5 OAA represents at the least a few hits that ought to’ve been outs, it’s protected to imagine unhealthy protection has left a notable mark on Frazier’s total output. There’s undoubtedly some noise baked right into a quantity constructed on a half-season pattern, nevertheless it makes one surprise – would a change in surroundings negatively impression the second baseman? A distinct workforce may imply a unique division, which additionally means a unique crop of infielders Frazier will face every day. It’s a query that issues.

Studying by what I’ve written, I understand there’s no central thesis, which I assume occurs when meandering by a whole lot of tables and observations about a person (oops). But in addition, I can’t in good religion declare with certainty whether or not Frazier will regress in the direction of his profession norm or not. Intuitively, he seems to be like a first-rate candidate, and there’s an opportunity none of this issues within the following months.

That being stated, he’s a extra fascinating participant than you would possibly assume. Due to his glorious bat-to-ball expertise, Frazier is a professional at sending fly balls to the outfield reasonably than foul territory, the place they turn into extra susceptible. He makes use of the whole area, not simply the pull aspect. And in two-strike conditions, he’ll defend himself by making contact and placing balls into play; the GIF from earlier in opposition to the Braves is an instance. Frazier isn’t a 137 wRC+ hitter, in fact, however he doesn’t look like a below-average one, both. It’s as much as contending groups to weigh the dangers in opposition to the rewards, and the way they might profit from an offensive profile like this.

Adam Frazier Has Been Interesting So Far

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