By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Reflecting on a season that has had many twists and turns, White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier echoed mixed feelings as the final weeks wind down.
From the first day of spring training, Frazier stated he was ready for both leadership and production duties. Coming to a new league and new city via an offseason trade after spending his entire career in Cincinnati was enough to get used to. Taking on a leadership role of a team is another. The White Sox had leaders like Chris Sale, Jose Abreu and Melky Cabrera when Frazier got to Arizona in February.
On the production side, some numbers have been great, some bad. Entering play Wednesday night, the 30-year-old Frazier has set a career-high with 36 homers and has 90 RBIs. He figures to finish with close to 40 homers and 100 RBIs. However, he’s only batting .215 with a .749 OPS.
“When you look at him, there are a lot of different things that he can do,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Frazier. “He knows the average could be better. You are looking at a guy who drives in runs, hits home runs. Defensively and personality wise, he is just a very aware baseball player. He has acumen for all kinds of things. He has his head into everything. He is always cheering guys on and is always out here. Those are important traits for a guy who is a leader, and he is.”
Further breaking down the numbers, the area the club and Frazier agree he must improve on is producing more runs with runners in scoring position. In such situations, he’s hitting .165 with a .602 OPS.
“I am a home run hitter,” Frazier responded to a question about him being a home run hitter or a hitter who hits home runs. “I would like to be a hitter and a home run hitter as well. Those are some of the things we have to work on a little bit. I have shown a little bit more here at the end of the year. After this year, I have to focus on a little stuff. I need to get guys over. Of course where I am hitting in the order will come into it. Singles work too.”
As for the leadership area of his persona, Frazier had to be a tad careful coming in to a new team and standing up as a prospective go-to guy.
“I believe it is a process,” Frazier said. “Coming from a different team, I did not want to step on anyone’s toes. We had older guys here who had played a lot longer. The focus is coming in everyday and being a professional.”
Frazier explained what he does in that role.
“Some days you are fun guy,” he said. “Some days you are a teacher. They have to learn these things and what it means to be a Chicago White Sox and a professional baseball player. When it comes to young players like Timmy Anderson, I tell them to come to me if they have any questions about anything. I think that is a big part of being a leader.”
Frazier will be eligible for a final year of salary arbitration in 2017. He made $7.5 million this season and will more than double that figure after putting up the offensive numbers he has this season. Frazier will be a free agent in November 2017, barring an extension.
As a player and leader, he has his moments of doubt from time to time.
“After you have been talking to a guy and you over think about something that happened, that is when you probably know you went too far,” Frazier said. “If you go to bed at night and a thing like that sticks, you come back and maybe apologize. I have to say to the other guy, ‘Maybe I had a bad day.’ It is a process and an understanding of respect.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.