Todd Frazier should be National League Rookie of the Year
A leading candidate for the National League Rookie of the Year made it more bearable for the Cincinnati Reds during the absence of the 2010 National League Most Valuable Player.
At 83-54, the Reds have the second-best record in the majors and a comfortable 8.5-game cushion over St. Louis in the National League Central standings. The division lead has mounted even without slugging first baseman Joey Votto, who found his name in the Reds lineup on Wednesday afternoon for the first time since July 15 after being sidelined for six-plus weeks following two arthroscopic knee surgeries.
Todd Frazier, Cincinnati’s 2007 supplemental first round pick out of Rutgers in 2007, is an integral reason why the Reds continued to thrive without Votto.
Though more widely known names like Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and Chicaco Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo tend to surface when casual baseball fans are polled about who should win the 2012 N.L. Rookie of the Year, those who closely follow the game recognize that Frazier, Diamondbacks left-handed starter Wade Miley (14-9, 2.90 ERA) and Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario (23 home runs, 58 RBI, .252 average, .826 OPS) belong in the conversation.
The 26-year-old Frazier, who was named National League Rookie of the Month for August, has a .289 average with 18 home runs, 62 RBI, 23 doubles, six triples, a .534 slugging percentage and a .882 OPS in 400 plate appearances. He leads N.L. rookies in RBI and is second in home runs.
Harper has dominated the headlines among National League rookies, mostly because he is a 19-year-old phenom who was the first overall pick of the 2010 draft and spent just one full season in the minors before making his Nationals debut earlier this season. Yet he is hitting just .256 and his 15 home runs, 45 RBI and .758 OPS do not favorably compare with Frazier.
The 23-year-old Rizzo is an exciting story, and he is batting .291 with 10 home runs and 31 RBI with a .796 OPS, but he has only 256 plate appearances and did not get called up to the Cubs until late June.
Frazier has struggled over his last 10 games, batting .229 (8-for-35) with no home runs. He was so-so in May (.246) and June (.250), but when the Reds needed production while Votto was out, Frazier stepped up with a .306 average and five home runs and 15 RBI in July followed by a .330 average with six home runs, 25 RBI, eight doubles, a .587 slugging percentage and a .981 OPS in August.
On the way to earning N.L. Rookie of the Month recognition, Frazier led Major League rookies with his 25 RBI and 36 hits and paced N.L. rookies with his .330 batting average, .393 on-base percentage and 19 runs.
Frazier was not the lone member of the Reds lineup to lift the offense while Votto was on the DL. Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce, Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips contributed. It is Frazier, though, who has given Cincinnati steady play at third base and at the plate, who is showing that his .280 average, 75 home runs, 300 RBI and .827 OPS over five minor league seasons were not a fluke.