Adam Frazier is a superstitious guy, as many baseball players are. But it goes well beyond the field.
It’s which side of the sink he puts his toothbrush on, or which way he sets his toothpaste bottle. It’s the way he puts on his pants each morning. It’s the shower he uses after the game; if someone is using the one he wants -- the one he got hits after using -- he’ll wait his turn.
That’s only a few on the long list of daily rituals in the name of the game. So when asked about the incredible stretch of hitting he’s been on that extended into Thursday’s 6-4 win over the Braves at Truist Park in 10 innings, his response was expected.
“Sounds like you need to go knock on some wood,” Frazier said.
The 29-year-old second baseman has been around long enough to know how these things go: One day you feel like you can hit anything, and the next day, you “forget how to even touch a ball,” as he put it.
But it feels like everything Frazier is touching right now has a good chance to be a hit, as he’s taken the Major League lead with 58 after a four-hit showing against the Braves.
“Every time he gets on base, I just smile,” said starter Wil Crowe, who pitched five-plus innings. “I just look at him like, ‘Holy crap. Another time?’ I mean, it’s again and again and again and again … and again.”
Even with his bat as sure as it’s been, Frazier began the game by trying to bunt for a hit down the third-base line. It went foul, so instead, he took the next three pitches then pulled a 3-1 fastball from Braves starter Drew Smyly to the corner in left, which set up Jacob Stallings to hit a two-out homer three batters later.
Frazier drove in a run of his own in a big spot. His third hit of the game -- following a third-inning single -- was driven to left-center field for a single to knot the game at 4 in the seventh. Then he singled in the 10th inning to start a two-run frame that secured the win for the Pirates.
With his 4-for-5 game against the Braves, Frazier is now hitting .556 (15-for-27) in his past six games, which doesn’t include two walks drawn over that span as well.
Given that kind of support, it’s no wonder a starting pitcher like Crowe would leave the Zoom room telling members of the media, “He's my favorite player, by the way. Adam Frazier is my favorite player.”
While Frazier’s ability to hit wasn’t much of a surprise on Thursday, the quality of the contact was unusual. Frazier is in the second percentile in the Majors in hard-hit rate (22.3%), but his first three knocks on Thursday were hard hit, classified as having a 95 mph exit velocity or greater. That marks only the fourth time in Frazier’s career that he’s had three or more hard-hit base hits in a single game.
In each case, those hard knocks were set up by an ability to work into hitter’s counts vs. working the prototypical Frazier at-bat, in which he fouls off pitch after pitch before dumping the ball in the shallow outfield.
“I think he has a good idea of how his swing plays,” manager Derek Shelton said. “When he gets himself into advantage counts, he’s able to take that short, compact swing. When he gets the ball in the right areas, he hits the ball hard.”
Frazier did not get off to the start he wanted to in 2020, and it showed in the .230 average he produced in 58 games during the shortened season. Yet here he sits with a .339 average and a .403 on-base percentage. At one point, he was tied for the longest hitting streak in the Majors this season at 12 games, but it was snapped on May 12, when he was forced to enter in the fifth inning after Phillip Evans was injured against the Reds.
No matter. Frazier scuffled the next day against the Giants, going hitless, but he’s now begun a new streak that, although half as long as the 12-game span, is even more consistent, with five multi-hit games in the six contests.
Needless to say, hitting looks easy for Frazier right now. What’s the hardest part of this stretch?
“Doing the same thing every day,” Frazier said. “That’s the challenge: To stay within myself and remember what I’m doing. And telling y’all the same thing every day -- that’s part of it, too. Knocking on the wood is part of it, too.
“But yeah, I’ll take it. Got to do it again tomorrow though.”