Clint Frazier vowed that he would permit his on-field performance to speak for itself this past season. The Yankees outfielder believed that mindset produced success, especially with his selection as a finalist for the American League Gold Glove Award in right field.
Frazier didn’t win the award, which was issued to the Rangers’ Joey Gallo in early November, but reading his name listed among the AL's top defenders was acknowledgment enough for the 26-year-old coming off a frustrating 2019 season in the field.
“I saw it on Twitter,” Frazier told the YES Network. “I was caught off guard. I know there was a lot of people out there probably looking at their phones sideways, thinking, ‘No way this guy should be on there.’ But hey, I found myself on that list. It was really cool.”
Despite playing in only 39 of the Yankees’ 60 regular-season games, Frazier tied for third among AL right fielders with four defensive runs saved, behind only Gallo (12) and the Orioles’ Anthony Santander (eight). Frazier said that he believes the improvement stemmed largely from his work with outfield coach Reggie Willits and being another year removed from a concussion sustained during Spring Training 2018.
“I was dealing with some of the concussion stuff [in 2019] and I was struggling with my depth perception,” Frazier said. “The bright lights or playing a day game in the sun, how bright it was, everything was affecting my vision. I felt uncomfortable out there, and I know that was very obvious to people watching.”
The performance came as part of an impressive 2020 campaign that saw Frazier optioned to the alternate training site during the Yankees' first road trip, only to return on Aug. 12 by homering in his first at-bat. Overall, Frazier produced a .267/.394/.511 slash line (149 OPS+) with eight homers and 26 RBIs.
“I was satisfied with a lot of things,” Frazier said. “The season was a weird one. I didn’t start off in the big leagues as long as I would have liked, and there were a lot of unknowns. Coming up and hitting a home run in my first at-bat was really special for me, because it made me feel like I deserved to be there. For me, the ultimate thing was to continue to go forward and feeling confident.”
Frazier currently projects as the Yankees’ starting left fielder, alongside Aaron Hicks in center and Aaron Judge in right. Mike Tauchman is also in the outfield mix, with Brett Gardner uncertain to return as a free agent and Giancarlo Stanton viewed largely as a designated hitter.
“I feel really good about my position moving forward,” Frazier said. “Left field has seemed to be a few different peoples’ position in the last few years. One week it’s Gardy, one week it was Tauchman, one week it was me. It was supposed to be Stanton when he [was acquired]. There’s a lot of people that have come in and not held it down. I’m hoping that I’m going to be able to hold it down.”