Slumpin' ain't easy (to explain): Down stays Frazier

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Friday night looked like it could be the triumphant  turnaround for Todd Frazier. By breaking his 0-for-31 fugue state, he avoided being mentioned in the same sentences and STATS, Inc queries as Drew Stubbs and Willy Taveras. Building on a 1st inning double off Andrew Cashner, he reached base three times in the game and scored three runs. The night was capped off by a Todd Frazier-curated Fireworks Friday that used his hand-picked playlist. Everything was coming up Todd.

Unfortunately, it was a short-lived reprieve. Since then, he's gone hitless in the three games. And Friday marked the only game in which Frazier has recorded a hit in since July 25. Over that stretch, in 51 plate appearances, Frazier has slashed .045/.176/.068, with just two hits and no RBIs.

Fortunately for Frazier, he has some august company. Defining a slump is difficult - both philosophically and at the down-and-dirty database level. Searching Baseball Reference for homer-less, RBI-less streaks by non-pitchers and catchers since 1950, there were over 50 Reds who were about as bad (.350 OPS or lower) for at least as long (~40 ABs).

It's not just Janishes and Pattersons. Pete Rose, Barry Larkin, Ken Griffey Sr and George Foster make the list too. In 1974, Ken Griffey Sr. slashed .098/.148/.118 over 51 ABs.

We know that good players are perfectly capable of weeks-long binge-slumping.

There's also the "sophomore slump" thing people like to say sometimes. Right before his nose-dive, Frazier was riding a mini-hot streak and it would have been hard to call his season a "slump." He'd raised his OBP over his rookie season, improved his defense and was hitting better than league-average, sporting a .254/.344/.419 slash line.

Frazier finished third in Rookie of the Year voting last season. Norichika Aoki and Willin Rosario, also Tod 5 ROY finishers, both have taken hits in their OPS and are hitting around league-average or lower. Frazier has taken the biggest drop, though he has plenty of season left to work his way back.

Frazier has a loopy swing and hands that start above his head. But fifty plate appearances doesn't seem like enough to overhaul an approach that took him from 1st-round-pick to ROY candidate. To boot, his plate vision seems to be improving over his early major-league career.

Frazier has also done almost all of his good hitting at home this season, making for stark home/away splits. But he hit significantly better on the road last season. Four-fifths of a season doesn't seem like enough to draw any conclusions there.

I've heard it repeated plenty this season, but baseball is weird. Just because something is clearly wrong, doesn't mean there's a clear explanation.

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