Wednesday, December 30, 2015


One of the bigger moves of the Hot Stove season involved the Chicago White Sox completing a trade with the Cincinnati Reds for All-Star slugging third baseman Todd Frazier as the team looks to complete a makeover back into playoff contention.  With the third base position all of a sudden infused with a massive amount of top tier talent, let's take a look at what Frazier (who is very much a part of this grouping) can supply in 2016 fantasy baseball.

When Frazier first made his way up to the Reds from the team's farm system, he was considered a decent power hitting prospect but not a sure thing by any means as an undrafted signing.  Still after a cup of coffee debut in 2011, Frazier solidified an everyday position for himself starting in the 2012 season when he opened some eyes by hitting 19 home runs and bat .273 in just 422 at-bats.  It certainly looked like the power was for real and more was expected out of Frazier for 2013.  Well Frazier did match the 19 home runs he smacked the previous year but it came in 100 more plate appearances.  In addition, Frazier hit a woeful .234 that season as he struck out 103 times and drew just 36 walks.  Overall Frazier's 2013 season was a dud and with him already moving to his prime years, there were no question marks of whether or not he could be a dependable player moving forward. 

Of course that brings us to the 2014 season when Frazier put together one of those tremendous breakout seasons that included not only a major boost in power to star levels but also a surprising bustout in a category he never did much of anything in before.  As far as the power was concerned, Frazier was locked in at the dish from the start of 2014 as he opened up swatting home runs left and right and never really let up as he finished with 29 long balls in 597 at-bats.  Frazier also wound up reaching career-highs in RBI with 80 and runs scored with 88.  The batting average?  Still not great but a nice improvement from his ugly early numbers as he hit .273.  Of course the biggest shock of all came in the form of 20 stolen bases from Frazier which was a skill he had never shown much of before.  Not especially fleet of foot, Frazier perfected some good timing on the bases which resulted in the major boost in steals.  Thus when you paired the 29 home runs with the 20 steals, you all of a sudden had Frazier being considered for as high as a mid-second round grade for 2015 drafts.  This was a point that would be debated both on here and in other publications as some threw the 20 stolen bases into the outlier bin and as far as we were concerned, the batting average of .273 was not bery believable as Frazier got some good BABIP luck to help there.  Still we noted that Frazier was worth a LATE second round pick given the third base position remained shallow going into 2015.

Fast forward through the 2015 season and ultimately Frazier made good on whatever draft price you made with him.  He reached yet another level in terms of power, putting up a career-high in home runs with 35.  Going in conjunction with the high in home runs was a career number in RBI with 89.  Clearly Frazier's standing as one of the best pure power hitters in baseball has been solidified and as far as 2016 is concerned, he should remain in the 30-35 range based on his current level of hitting. 

Now let's get to the average and steals.  As we forecasted, the average took a dip to a very shaky .255 as Frazier once again struck out way too much with a 20.2 K/9 IP rate.  That will never allow Frazier to bat more than .275 at the very best and more likely he will remain in the .265 area code.  Frazier also walked in only 8.0 percent of his plate appearances last season which again hurts him in the average department.  Getting to the stolen bases, Frazier lost 7 steals from the year prior as he finished with 13.  While that is a decent drop, 13 stolen bases from your fantasy baseball third baseman (or first baseman if you use Frazier there since he qualifies in some leagues) is a very solid number.  Looking for 20 again is foolish but 10-14 seems about right.  The desire seems to be there and that should be where Frazier lands again this season.

When you put it all together, Todd Frazier is a clear four category fantasy baseball star who only is a negative in batting average.  The guy's power is tremendous and he should see no drop in numbers in his new home with the White Sox as their home park is conducive to more homers.  We would still draft Frazier in the second round this season as his numbers suggest he is worthy there.  What is crazy though is that the incredible explosion of star third baseman last season has Frazier as possibly the fourth third baseman off the board after Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado, and Manny Machado. 

2016 PROJECTION:  .263 33 HR 88 RBI 86 R 11 SB


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