Chris Sale already has a solid book on Todd Frazier.
Over the weekend, the White Sox All-Star pitcher said that even though Frazier has struggled, he seems to have a knack for big moments.
Monday’s 12-inning 8-4 win over the Texas Rangers, when Frazier homered twice, including a go-ahead grand slam in the 12th, is the latest evidence produced by the White Sox third baseman in support of Sale’s theory. The White Sox improved to 23-10 and increased their lead in the American League Central to six games over the Cleveland Indians with the victory.
There’s no question Frazier would like to improve upon the .215/.290/.477 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs in 145 plate appearances he has produced this season. His average is 40 points below his career .255 mark. But the hits he has had have already made a significant impact in White Sox victories.
“His bat might not be where he wants it to be, but he’s still coming up with big hits,” Sale said. “All of his hits that he’s gotten up to this point I feel like are at a big point in the game or a home run when we need it or an RBI when we really need it. That’s the key. Even when you’re not going good they figure it out.”
The White Sox figured Frazier would have to be a significant force if the club expected to rebound after three disappointing seasons.
They haven’t had a consistent third baseman since Joe Crede and tried out everybody and anybody to fill the vacancy. The club identified Frazier -- who blasted 64 homers the previous two seasons -- as a possible solution last season. They targeted the 2015 Home Run Derby champ as part of their offseason plan and in December sent Trayce Thompson, Frankie Montas and Micah Johnson to the Los Angeles Dodgers in order to acquire him from the Cincinnati Reds.
While he had gone hitless in May until he broke out in Saturday’s victory, Frazier has still found a way to impact the team’s games. His defense has been superb as is his leadership. On Saturday, manager Robin Ventura said he appreciated that Frazier’s struggles hadn’t carried over into the field. Frazier has produced three Defensive Runs Saved, which is tied for fourth among third baseman, according to fangraphs.com.
But his bat also has provided the team a big boost, too.
Frazier is tied for fifth in the majors in homers with 10.
The White Sox are 6-3 in games that Frazier homers. Five of Frazier’s round-trippers have put the White Sox in the lead and two others have tied a game.
He’s also driven in game-tying runs on April 9 and May 8 and put the White Sox ahead with a two-run double in the seventh inning of an April 25th victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
So while the average isn’t quite where Frazier might like it, he has impressed Sale with how he’s found a way to make an impact.
“That’s the key to this game,” Sale said. “When you’re not at your best, you’re still producing and you’re still a big factor on this team like he is.”