Our 40 in 40 series, which takes a look at each player on the 40 man roster for the Pittsburgh Pirates, continues today with a look at super utility man Adam Frazier.
Heading into the 2018 season, the possibility of Adam Frazier having a starting job in the Pirates outfield seemed high. The trade that sent Andrew McCutchen to San Francisco quickly opened up the door for the young super utility man, but the acquisition of Corey Dickerson from the Tampa Bay Rays shut it just as fast.
With Starling Marte moving to center field, many thought Frazier would fill the Pirates’ void in left field. Now with Dickerson in the fold, Frazier can focus on his role as a utility man, playing and contributing all around the diamond.
With that being said, it brings up the questions, ‘What can the Pirates expect from the 26-year-old in 2018?’
More consistent offensive production
During a less than stellar year in which the Pirates missed the playoffs and finished 12 games under .500, Frazier was a bright spot at the plate. After hitting .301 in 66 games in 2016, Frazier batted .276/.344/.399 with six home runs and 53 RBIs. Frazier ranked in the top five on the team in categories such as doubles (20), triples (6), runs scored (55), on-base percentage (.344) and RBIs.
It’s not unreasonable to believe Frazier could replicate that type of production. Despite serving in a bench role, Frazier will get his fair share of playing time and will likely take advantage of it.
The experience Frazier has received over the past two years has benefited him. He seems to be getting better as the years go by and if this trend continues, the former sixth round draft pick could be on the verge of another quality season at the plate.
The acquisition of Dickerson was a blessing in disguise for Frazier. And I’m sure Pirates fans are thankful that the front office pulled off the deal as well.
The trade for the former Tampa Bay star not only gives the Pirates a quality power bat, but it allows Frazier to serve in a role he is more suited for. Frazier has proven he is capable of playing in the outfield and I’m sure there is nothing he wants more than to play and show that he has value as an everyday starter at one position. But it seems as if, at least at the moment, he is more valuable to the team as a utility man that can play all over the field.
Last season, Frazier played every outfield position – including 52 starts in left field – and also appeared at second base, shortstop and third base. The only player on the team that can play more positions than Frazier is Sean Rodriguez, who also is capable of playing first base as well.
The ability to play multiple positions really is uncanny and the fact that the Pirates have two players that can do this is advantageous. Expect to see Frazier continuing to play all around the diamond with his most common destinations being in the outfield and at second base.
Impact at the top of the order
Frazier’s impact was most felt at the top of the Pirates batting order last season. He played a team-high 63 games hitting out of the leadoff spot, batting .260 with 32 RBIs and 43 runs scored.
Whenever he is in the lineup, it’s likely that Clint Hurdle will pencil him into the leadoff spot. On the occasions that this does happen, the Pirates know they will have a decent chance at getting an early spark to pave the way for the power hitters in the lineup such as Josh Bell and Dickerson.
Good things ahead for Frazier
The fact that Frazier will likely enter the 2018 season as a bench player doesn’t diminish the impact he has on the Pirates. His impact may be even more pivotal than any of the starting nine.
Frazier is hitting .375 with three RBIs and five walks in 21 plate appearances through seven games this spring. Yes, spring training is far from over, but that’s good news for the Pirates and for fans as it may just be a preview of what’s to come from the super utility man.