CINCINNATI -- It didn't matter that Todd Frazier was the very final cut from the Reds' roster at the end of Spring Training. The versatile infielder still emerged as one of the biggest contributors during the club's run to a National League Central title.
This wasn't just noticed in Cincinnati, or among his teammates. The rest of the league took notice as well. On Monday, Frazier earned a Major League Baseball Players Association Players Choice Award from his peers as the NL's outstanding rookie.
Frazier beat out outfielder Bryce Harper of the Nationals and left-handed starting pitcher Wade Miley from the D-backs. Voting is done entirely by the league's players, and their ballots were turned in around mid-September.
"It means a lot. It's the ultimate award, I think, because the players vote," Frazier said. "They understand the game. They understand how hard it is to play, the grind. It's very meaningful to me and I'm happy to receive it."
The Players Choice Awards were held Monday evening on MLB Network at the Secaucus, N.J. studios. Frazier, who hails from Toms Rivers, N.J., was on hand to collect his award in person as was fellow New Jersey resident Mike Trout of the Angels, who won the American League outstanding rookie award.
In 128 games during his first full season in the Majors, the 26-year-old Frazier batted .273 with 19 home runs and 67 RBIs and was among the leaders in several categories among National League rookies.
Frazier wasn't recalled to the Majors until mid-April but became a regular presence in the lineup when third baseman Scott Rolen went on the disabled list May 12. A couple of weeks later, he caught fire with his first walk-off home run against the Braves. A few days later, he hit a homer against the Rockies after throwing his bat at the ball.
Shortly after Rolen's return, Frazier shifted over to first base when Joey Votto missed six weeks with a left knee injury. In 47 games while Votto was out, Frazier batted .305 with eight homers and 32 RBIs.
"Wade Miley was steady all year. He did his thing," Frazier said. "Harper came on strong at the end. I came on in the middle when we had a couple of guys go down.
"Just understanding the presence that Joey Votto has, and Scott Rolen, to come in and play the game, not to their capabilities but to mine, it was a big value. Filling those kinds of shoes was pretty hard. But I understood at the same time that you can't do the things those guys can do. Do what you can do and trust yourself. That's the bottom line. I trusted what I could do."
Frazier made 36 starts at first base, 66 starts at third base and seven starts in the outfield. He was also clutch as a pinch-hitter, going 6-for-12.
As part of the award, the Players Trust is donating $20,000 to be spread among the charities of Frazier's choice. Frazier is giving a percentage to the House of Hope program at the Presbyterian Church of Toms River and also funds to Hurricane Sandy relief.
Frazier and his family rode out the storm at their home in Toms River and sustained only minor damage and no injuries. They were the more fortunate ones as New Jersey was hard hit by Superstorm Sandy that claimed over 100 lives and caused billions of dollars in damage.
Earlier Monday, Frazier was helping with the relief effort at his old Little League field.
"My brother still doesn't have electricity but that's the least of all of our worries," Frazier said. "It's getting crazy right now. People are losing houses. There's sand piled up six, seven feet at people's houses on the shore. It looks like snow. There was a lot of damage. I've never been through something like that."