White Sox Hot Corner Picks Up Steam

It’s finally happened. The moment all White Sox fans have been waiting for. No, not Carlos Rodon making his season debut. Or Yoan Moncada being called up to the majors. Alright, so maybe not everyone is waiting for it, but it still happened — Todd Frazier got his batting average above .200 this season.

The 31 year-old third baseman known for his home run hitting prowess has been the subject of quite a bit of concern due to his abysmal numbers beginning the final season of his two-year contract with the White Sox.

But things are on the upswing. Currently, Frazier is sporting a line of .222/.327/.438 with the second highest ISO on the White Sox (min. 200 PA) at .216—just behind Avisail Garcia. All this looks a lot better for Frazier than it did say, about a week ago.

The interesting thing to pick up on here is that while Frazier is maintaining an average OBP this season, his BABIP is sitting at just .237—the lowest on the team by nearly 50 points. That indicates that Frazier has had a lot of balls fall in places that make for some pretty bad luck so far this season and yet he’s still maintaining a healthy enough OBP considering the fact.

The reason for that? Frazier is walking a ton. He’s walking at a 13.4 percent clip, nearly four percentage points higher than any other year of his career and the highest on the White Sox just behind Omar Narvaez (although you could consider them tied, seeing as they’re separated by .1 percentage points).

“The average isn’t there, but if I had this batting average with a .250 on-base percentage, I’d be worried,” Frazier said of his low batting average yet defendable OBP. “But I have an approach that works for me and, eventually, once it clicks, it’s going to be pretty good.”

So what’s the difference maker been for Frazier? It’s definitely walks, but how is he suddenly tightening up his plate approach seven years into his major league career?

“I’m seeing a lot more pitches for the first time in my career,” Frazier said of his approach. “It’s good. It means I’m not swinging at that many balls, staying in my zone.”

His plate discipline numbers certainly back up that claim. Take a look at the difference in the numbers simply from 2016 to 2017:















Quite the difference. Frazier is swinging outside the zone less and swinging less overall than he did last season. Let’s now take a look at how that’s effected his contact rates:












In a single word: positively. Though he’s swinging at fewer pitches outside the strike zone by far, he’s making more contact on those pitches and more contact overall. He’s just not being handed a ton of luck on those pitches, which is well-illustrated by his extremely unfortunate BABIP.

Things should be picking up for the slugger; this type of bad luck is only sustainable for so long. Should Frazier pick it up soon, he could become trade bait for a team looking for a push at the deadline. With just over half a season left on his contract, however, combined with his age and his declining skill set, it’s not likely Frazier will bring a lot back in a trade. Though he’s showing the ability to be proactive and work with what he has at the plate, that doesn’t mean that Frazier will turn back into a perennial All-Star or Home Run Derby champ again.

For now, Frazier’s value lies in his ability to get on base, hit home runs (he’s tied for the team lead), and bring a bounty of character and leadership to the ever changing and very youthful landscape of the Chicago White Sox clubhouse. Those thing are all worth keeping Frazier around for.