It’s been seven seasons since Joe Crede manned third base for the Chicago White Sox, which also marks the last time the Sox got any offensive production out of a third baseman.
Well, that was before last week when the Sox traded Trayce Thompson, Frankie Montas, and Micah Johnson in a three-team deal that landed the Sox Todd Frazier from Cincinnati.
Frazier is a two-time All-Star capable of putting the ball in the stands, hitting for a decent average, and has sure hands at the hot corner – something else the Sox haven’t had since Crede.
The Sox addressed a pressing need with this trade, and they didn’t give up much in the way of upside. Win-win, right?
That all depends on how you value Frazier, a soon to be 30-year-old slugger with two years of team control before he hits free agency.
So the Sox aren’t tied down by a long-term contract even if Frazier falls off a cliff; but by giving up Thompson, Montas, and Johnson – they gave up six years of team control on each player. That could prove to be a steep price to pay for Todd Frazier if any of them become full-time regulars, but those chances are pretty low.
Frazier’s All-Star enhanced resume does have its holes, though. You see, All-Star appearances are nothing but a midseason pat on the backside. It rewards players that play well through the first half of the season but by definition literally doesn’t account for a single thing after that point.
Todd Frazier is a prime example.
Last season, he was on an absolute rampage in the first half — launching 25 home runs, slashing .284/.337/.585, and putting up a wRC+ of 146 — meaning he was 46% better than the league average.
Pretty damn good.
Then Frazier’s production was nowhere to be found in the second half when he essentially went cold for two and a half months. He still managed to hit 10 home runs, but only slashed .220/.274/.390 and put up a wRC+ of 75, good for 25% worse than the league average.
Pretty damn bad.
And Frazier managed to stink up the joint in the second half two seasons ago too – when he was an All-Star for the first time.
Just like in 2015, he started the season off scorching hot with 19 home runs, a.290/.353/.500 slash line, and a wRC+ of 137 – 37% better than the league average.
Then came the second half nose dive: 10 home runs, an ugly .247/.312/.396 clip, and a wRC+ of 96 – 4% worse than league average.
This trend is a bit troubling, because prior to 2014, Frazier never experienced such massive swings in production from the first half to the second half.
One thing that stands out regardless of recent trends is that Frazier’s OBP has always been lower in the second half – thanks to his strikeout rate going up, his walk rate going down and his batting average taking a hit of its own. And thus, it makes sense why Frazier has seen such massive fluctuations between the first half and second half.
It’d be wise for White Sox fans to understand that their front office traded for a player who has primarily built his favorable reputation on first half production alone.
The recent trends are unlikely to stop, with Frazier’s 30th birthday less than two months away and an adjustment to AL pitching coming as well. He’s an extremely streaky player anyway, as his game involves quite a bit of swing-and-miss and not a lot of walks.
Despite being a virtual lock to take an offensive dump in the second half, Frazier should still continue to provide above-average defense at third. No more of this Swiss cheese for defense BS that White Sox fans have been forced to watch the past few seasons.
But overall, because of his recent second-half meltdowns and little ability to complement his power with walks — Todd Frazier just isn’t good enough to completely turn around a lineup that finished dead last in the AL.
I will say, Rick Hahn has done a better job at actually addressing the White Sox actual needs this offseason and Frazier was a solid pickup for his price in prospects.
But even though they now have another All-Star corner infielder the White Sox won’t be a serious threat to knock the Kansas City Royals off their AL Central pedestal without addressing their long list of other needs (hello outfield).
Including somebody to pick up Todd Frazier’s slack in the second half next season.