A lot has been made of Clint Frazier’s relatively short tenure with the New York Yankees. The Georgia native is undeniably one of the organization’s most valuable assets. However, mishaps in the field, clashes with reporters, and sporadic playing time has blurred the lines for many when it comes to evaluating the right fielder. There has been a welcome change to the Frazier narrative. That’s been obvious in the way in which the 25-year-old has conducted himself since Spring Training’s return.
2019 in Review
The 2019 Major League season was overshadowed by what many characterized as Frazier’s inability to handle the New York spotlight. Following an incredibly encouraging first half of the season, filling in for the then injured Aaron Judge, many assumed Clint Frazier had made his case to the Yankee hierarchy. Batting .283 with 11 home runs across 53 games, it was clear Frazier had returned to pre-concussion form. Production at the plate was second nature, yet one department in particular served as his Achilles heel; the outfield. Following an abysmal performance in early June against the Red Sox, Frazier’s flaw reared its big ugly head. It was at that stage that many began to predict the beginning of the end for Frazier’s season.
Loss of confidence in the outfield soon migrated to his production at the plate. Poor form paired with the glaring spotlight of the New York media, simply proved too much to handle. A series of unabashedly reckless statements and tense exchanges with reporters added to the growing portfolio of problems that Clint Frazier was acquiring, both on and off the field. It was his demotion to AAA weeks later which many saw as a punishment for mistakes in the field and the locker-room, but a blow Frazier seemed to take in stride.
Shift in Gear
Fast forward to 2020 where we are in the midst of a global health crisis. Clint Frazier’s crisis of character seems to have ended. A visibly more relaxed and laid-back Frazier arrived to Spring Training 2.0 with a noticeably more positive mindset. Seemingly oblivious to the mounting questions about his role in the team, Frazier appeared uncharacteristically blasé with what the future held. Speaking to reporters early this week, Clint seemed to double-down on this new mantra. He told reporters, “I have a role. I don’t know what that role’s going to be, and I guess as the season continues to unfold we’ll figure out what all of our roles might be, but hopefully its one that gets to play a big part … and a consistent role if I earn it”.
The sudden gear change from an unapologetically eager youngster, desperate for playing time, now blossoming into a calm, levelheaded athlete, is a godsend for Clint’s own image as well as for the Yankees’ PR Department. Frazier’s conscious/unconscious decision to “stop trying to play GM” has in turn revealed a whole new side to Georgia Peach boy. Apart from visibly looking more relaxed and at ease, another visual change has been Frazier’s decision to wear a mask while training and playing games. Regardless of where you stand on the mask debate, one thing is abundantly clear, Clint Frazier has truly come into his own.
What we can expect
Reports of an upbeat Frazier gelling with his teammates is hopefully the first sign of someone who’s finally found their place. The confidence knock suffered last season seems to be all but a distant memory. Frazier is now finding his voice among clubhouse leaders like Gardner and Judge. He is also aiming to once again silence his critics with his bat and glove. Although we have yet to see much from Clint Frazier in 2020, a crucial first obstacle has been overcome.
We know Clint Frazier is mentally prepared for the upcoming season, but can the bat match the talk? We’ll just have to wait and see!
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