After a nearly two hour rain delay at the Evil Empire, hope seemed slim for an Orioles team that was down 5-1 heading into the seventh inning against the backdrop of a dark, windy, and rainy night in the Bronx. The Yankees had hit three home runs off of Tyler Wells, including two by known Orioles killer Gleyber Torres. However, as we have learned time and time again this season, the O's may be down but they are never out.
The birds rallied for eight runs in the seventh inning against three Yankees pitchers to turn the 5-1 deficit into a 9-5 lead and an eventual 9-6 win. The improbable rally was ignited by one of the most improbable home runs one can witness. Adam Frazier teed up a Nestor Cortes pitch for a 311-foot three-run home run off the foul pole in the right field corner. The homer chased Cortes out of the game and gave Frazier his sixth home run of the season before his fiftieth game.
Baltimore Orioles infielder Adam Frazier quietly enjoying success in Baltimore
Throughout his career, Frazier has never been any sort of power hitter so the six home runs in 48 games comes as a surprise to even the most optimistic supporters. Entering the season, Adam hit 43 career homers in more than 800 games. With this new surge in power, Frazier has shown that he is a bounce back player after a tough 2022 with the Mariners and he has proven himself as a bargain for the O's on a one-year contract.
Frazier had a career year in 2021 where he made his one and only All-Star appearance as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Between the Pirates and Padres, Adam slashed .305/.368/.411 in 155 games and 639 plate appearances. Frazier has never hit for power as his career high in home runs for a season is 10 and his career high in slugging percentage is .456.
He spent the first five and a half seasons of his career in Pittsburgh and was always a league average or better hitter who excelled in getting base hits and having the ability to play anywhere in the field. Throughout his career he has played every position except pitcher, catcher, and first base but has stuck at second base over the past few seasons as he has taken on an everyday role. His worst career season came last year with the Mariners where he hit .238/.301/.311 with an 80 OPS+ and 3 home runs in 156 games.
One troubling sign for Frazier this season is that his defense has underperformed compared to his typical success at second base. According to Fangraphs, Adam has been a plus defender each season since 2017 and finished with a defensive rating of 4.4 last year despite his miserable performance at the plate.
This season, however, Frazier has a -3.0 defensive rating with -4 runs above average given up and -5 outs above average recorded. Essentially, he has been significantly worse defensively than the average second basemen which is a troubling trend given that he has relied on strong defense to stay as an everyday player.
Along with strong defense, an elite ability to make contact has been Frazier's biggest strength throughout his career. This season, Adam ranks in the 98th percentile for strikeout percentage and the 96th percentile for whiff rate. Essentially, when Adam swings the bat, he makes contact with the baseball. Frazier is definitely a different archetype than the typical three true outcome hitters that frequently roam the field. The Orioles primary second baseman last year, Rougned Odor, played much more as a three-true outcome hitter with a lot of strikeouts and a lot of home runs.
At 5'10 180 pounds, Frazier does not utilize much strength to his game. According to BaseballSavant, he ranks in the fifth percentile for arm strength and sixth percentile for average exit velocity. Another promising trend is his improvement in drawing walks. Adam has a career-high 10.1 percent walk rate which ranks him in the 62nd percentile in Major League Baseball. This improved patience has also allowed him to increase his on-base percentage and capabilities.
All in all, Frazier has had an impressive bounceback season after a rough 2022 and has proven to be a major bargain for the Orioles with an $8 million contract for this season. As a veteran leader and proven on-base hitter, Adam has provided plenty of value for the O's in what will likely be his only season in Baltimore. With Ramon Urias injured and Gunnar Henderson off to early struggles, the O's have desperately needed some stability in the infield and this has come in the form of Adam Frazier who is a reliable bat and hopeful to improve his defense to similar levels as in previous seasons.