The Cincinnati Reds‘ Todd Frazier continued to stay hot in the month of June and thus prolonged hope from Reds fans that this will be a breakout season for the 28-year-old Point Pleasant, N.J. product.
After his 2012 season when he placed third in NL ROY votes hitting .273 with 19 HRs and 67 RBIs, Frazier appeared to be a solid bet to break out in 2013. He did not entirely disappoint, hitting as many long balls as in the previous season. But his batting average dropped an entire 39 points, perhaps the result of having nearly 150 more plate appearances than he did in 2012.
The Reds have not had much consistency or luck so far in the 2014 season. Their All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman began the season on the disabled list, missing the first five weeks of the season due to a freak accident in Spring Training. Starting pitcher Homer Bailey struggled out of the gates, ending the month of May with an ERA of 5.04. Former NL MVP first baseman Joey Votto has been hampered by a quad injury and also spent time on the disabled list. Outfielder Jay Bruce has been brutal, hitting only .217 with five home runs. At this time last year, Bruce had 10 HRs and was batting .272.
Starting pitcher Johnny Cueto and catcher Devin Mesoraco have been pleasant surprises, but Frazier has been the Reds clear leader offensively.
So far in June, Frazier is hitting .282 with four HRs. The fact that all of those long balls, save for today’s, have been solo shots shows the Reds are not getting runners on base at a high percentage. Most noticeable of all would be outfielder and leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton. The speedster is slashing only .252/.290/.345 and is not even leading the NL in stolen bases. Experts figured him to be a lock in the preseason to run away with the stolen base title for all of MLB.
Frazier was the sole offensive reason the Reds won today. Chapman came in and delivered in the ninth to earn his tenth save, but the Reds third baseman hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning which was all Cincinnati needed for run production.
On the whole, Frazier is tied for second in the NL in home runs and is hitting a healthy .274, 19 points above his career norm. It’s a wonder why someone like New York Mets‘ David Wright is currently slated to be the starting third baseman for the NL in the 2014 All-Star Game. Obviously he has the big-name recognition, but he has ten less home runs on the year than Frazier does and is hitting for a lower average. Reds fans need to hit the ballots hard, because right now Frazier leads their team in HRs and RBIs and should get a chance to at least make the NL squad, if not start.
If the Reds hope to stay in the hunt this year, they will need veterans like Votto, Bruce and 2B Brandon Phillips to elevate their games and start matching the standard that Frazier has set for his ball club in 2014.