The defensive woes of Clint Frazier continue
For the third time in this young season, I'm writing about Clint Frazier. My first piece was about Clint needing to "put up or shut up". My second was about his horrible playing in Houston. This third piece is about both Clint's ego and his horrible playing.
Last night was the final game of what turned out to be a 3-game series against the Red Sox. Obviously, everything is heightened when the Yankees play Boston. When the lineup was
released and I saw Clint was playing right field, I prayed no one would hit the ball to him.
Clint has shown us this season he cannot make plays in the outfield. Left field in Houston was a nightmare for him. Right field has now also turned into a nightmare. He can't catch routine fly balls, he takes horrible routes, he dives unnecessarily, and he can't keep the ball in front of him.
Last night against Boston, right field turned into Clint's house of horrors. He committed an error while approaching a ground ball that was hit right at him, letting the ball go bouncing past him to the wall as the Red Sox scored a run. He threw wide on another misplay, trying unsuccessfully to nail a baserunner at home plate. He misread a pair of fly balls hit toward him, even laying out and diving at the last minute for one ball he should have caught easily.
Every time I complain about Clint, I try and remind myself that I don't like the guy, so maybe I'm being too hard on him. A lot of people like him and they love his offense. I've tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and when he was producing at the plate, I even publicly praised him (I will always happily eat crow when it comes to the Yankees). After watching him continually misplay balls in the outfield, I don't think I was too hard on him. Clint is a terrible outfielder. Yes, he's done drills in the outfield with Judge to try and improve his defense. Those drills aren't working. I realize that maybe it's not something that can be fixed in the majors, and if that's the case, he needs to be sent back down. This is June and the Yankees are playing great baseball, so it's easy to "overlook" Clint's inability to catch routine fly balls, but whenever either Stanton or Judge comes back, Clint needs to go back down.
I found a minor league scouting report from Clint's days with the Indians, and this is what it said about his ability in the outfield, "I still see Frazier have difficulty tracking balls off the bat in the Arizona Fall League. Granted, the high bright blue sky with lots of sun in the Arizona desert makes finding balls challenging, but Frazier often must hustle and close fast on fly balls he misjudges in center." Clint's poor play in the outfield has been a problem from day one. Maybe Clint should spend less time talking about his cleats and posting on Instagram, and more time working on his bad defense, that cost the Yankees runs last night.
The icing on the cake from last night was, that after the game, Clint refused to speak to the media. Anyone who knows anything about the Yankees knows that they teach all of their players (rookies and veterans alike) that accountability is key. You play well, you speak to the media. You play poorly, you speak to the media. It's what the team and the fans expect (last year, after his five-strikeout game, Stanton spoke to the media. Gary had two games last year with several passed balls, he didn't hide from the media, he talked to them about it) Clint didn't do that. Clint left his teammates to answer questions about him instead. That's a horrible look. Eventually, hours later, Clint did speak to Coley Harvey with ESPN. This was after he left his teammates to answer questions about his bad defense. That's about as bad of a look as it gets.
Someone mentioned that the grief Clint is getting is similar to the grief Gary Sanchez received with this passed balls. I'd like to address that, because I don't think it's the same. When you look at the metrics of what a catcher is responsible for and the things you want them to do well, passed balls is not at the top of the list. Even when Gary struggled with the passed balls, his pop time was great, he has a cannon for an arm, he called a great game, and his framing was very good. Those are all more important than his passed balls. The basic, fundamental part of Clint's job is to catch fly balls. He can't do that. Also, Gary never dodged the media, not once. Not even when Girardi publicly called him out for the passed balls.
I suppose, after it’s all said and done, Clint is getting what he wants though. Due to the off day, he’s getting two days of people talking about him.