Frazier could flourish into leadership role
JUL 05, 2013 5:49p ET
CINCINNATI — When it comes to high energy, Todd Frazier is a walking bottle of Gatorade or can of Red Bull.
When he walks into a room he has the personality of an Irish Setter — everybody knows he is there and everybody accepts his presence with a smile.
The Cincinnati Reds and their manager, Dusty Baker, lost their clubhouse leader after last season when Scott Rolen decided his baseball career had reached its end.
So if there is anything missing from the Reds clubhouse it is an acknowledged leader. When Rolen was there everybody knew he was top dog.
After a national poll this year, Reds first baseman Joey Votto was voted The Face of Baseball. And Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, The Twitter Tsar of baseball, is a fan favorite.
Votto, though, is a private person, a born introvert who ducks spotlights like a convict fleeing incarceration. He is a leader — a great leader — but it is by example and not word of mouth.
Phillips is noisy and visible, but it is more toward the fans and the media than it is diplaying team vociferous leadership qualities.
As Baker says, “The one thing we are missing are energy guys.”
Frazier could be that guy, but probably in the future. This is only his second year with the Reds and his first year as a regular.
He would love to assume the role, but knows it can’t be commandeered, it has be earned — both on the field and in the clubhouse.
“Growing up I’ve always been vocal and tried to be a leader,” he said. “I don’t mind taking that role. But now is not the time. I understand that. But if I play in this game three or four more years, God-willing, I’d love to be that guy. I don’t want to be a pain in the rear end, just that guy that can say, ‘Let’s go, let’s step it up a little bit. We need some energy.’
“I’m that energy guy,” he added. “Dusty talks about us not having many energy guys, but I’m one of them. You can’t change who you are. I talk the entire game, trying to get people fired up, that’s who I am.”
Frazier, a 27-year-old New Jersey resident and a supplemental first round pick in 2007, didn’t make last year’s team out of spring training. But he was summoned to the big leagues in mid-April and was a major player in the Reds run to the National League Central championship.
His peers, the players, voted him the Oustanding Rookie in the National League and he finished third in the BBWAA balloting for Rookie of the Year.
The pedigree is there.
But he has had his periods of sluggishness so far this year — .243, 10 homers, 41 RBIs — as Roilen’s successor at third base.
Frazier realizes he must, and can, do better and being a Type A personality he intends to grab the bat hard and swing away.
Frazier has the attitude that as long as the team wins, he can withstand some sinkholes personally.
He didn’t do well on a 2-6 road trip to Arizona, Oakland and Texas, but few of his teammates did, either. But they returned home to sweep three games from the San Francisco Giants and now play there at home against Seattle. And Frazier took a four-game hitting streak into Friday night’s game against the Mariners.
“We know things like that happen in baseball, that bad road trip, but it is how you rebound, how you bounce back. We like playing at home (29-14). That’s big for us. If we pick it up a little bit on the road (20-22) we’ll be fine.
“Every at-bat, I feel great and some days are better than others, something you just have to understand in this game,” he said. “Keep going, play like I did last year, with reckless abandon. I like to play like it is going to be your my time out at bat. Those 0 for 4 days are tough, you don’t want them to build up.
“It’s funny that when you are winning you don’t really talk about the 0 for 4s, but it’s a different story when you lose. I have to understand I just have to keep focused and I’ll be fine.”
Frazier is trying something different for him, “A shorter swing from A to B. I’m trying to understand pitch selection more.”
His swing might be shorter, but his reach as a leader is getting longer.