Frazier gets back into swing of things

Utility man hits reset button, opens 2nd half with 3-for-5 game

July 15th, 2017

PITTSBURGH -- Over the All-Star break, pressed a much-needed reset button. The second-year super-utility man headed south for Nashville, Tenn., and he stayed away from baseball -- far away, in every way.
"Don't think about baseball. Don't talk about baseball. Don't even look at a baseball," Frazier said. "I caught a glimpse of the end of the All-Star Game, and that was it. That was the extent of baseball for me.
"It's a long season. Everybody needs a mental break, to get away and live life like normal people for a few days."
It came at a good time for Frazier, who had been slumping after a sensational start, and Friday's second-half opener showed it may have been the perfect amount of time away. He went 3-for-5 with a double, his first multihit game since June 21, in the Pirates' 5-2 win over the Cardinals at PNC Park.
"It was a welcome sight. Nobody's more challenged than him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's the one living it. He's the one making the right turns down there."
For the better part of two months, though, it seemed like Frazier lived on first base. He was hitting .361/.446/.515 in 28 games through May 25. In the following 39 games leading up to the season's midway point, he slashed just .181/.250/.239 without a homer.
The underlying numbers, according to Statcast™, indicate Frazier's contact wasn't the same quality. Through May 25, he had a .316 Expected Batting Average and a .388 Expected Weighted On-base Average. During his slump, those figures dipped to .231 (xBA) and .275 (xwOBA). His exit velocity decreased, his launch angle dropped and his average batted-ball distance was 10 feet shorter.
Slowly but surely, Frazier's simple swing escaped him. His bat path wasn't right. He found he was trying to lift the ball too much rather than staying on top of it, the key to his success. Suddenly, the sweet-swinging leadoff man was in the Pirates' deepest slump. It wasn't just bad luck.
"And it's a guy that, for a couple weeks, looked like he invented the game," Hurdle said. "That's the beauty of being up here for a full season. It takes you a lot of places. And he's learning a lot of valuable lessons through the challenging times."
When Frazier got back to baseball Thursday during a workout at PNC Park, he found a fix and worked with the Bucs' hitting coaches to implement it. He believes positive results will follow, as they did Friday night.
"I preach all the time, 'Know your swing better than anybody.' And it's like, 'It feels fine, what's going on?'" Frazier said. "It kind of got away from me, and it took a while to get back. … Hopefully we're on to something and can build off it."
Around the horn
• Hurdle said the Pirates will attempt to keep left fielder in one spot in the lineup when he returns from his suspension on Tuesday.
put together another dominant start for Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday, holding Louisville scoreless while striking out six without a walk in seven three-hit innings. Glasnow owns a 1.49 ERA with 55 strikeouts and 15 walks in 36 1/3 innings over six starts since he was sent back to the Minor Leagues.

• Josh Bell's walk-off homer Friday night was the first by a Pirates rookie since did so at PNC Park on Aug. 7, 2010.