Seventy-two days have passed since the Cincinnati Reds last played a Major League Baseball game. The above picture of Jake Fraley trying impossibly hard to not get pelted by the fastball pursuing him has been the lead photo in the Getty files when you search for “Cincinnati Reds” for every single one of those seventy-two days, seeing as it’s the last time the Reds actively participated in anything baseball related - be it on the field, or on the business side.
I’ve seen Jake try to dodge that pitch every single day for over two months, and it has prompted me to throw a bit of love towards the guy who, more often than not, served as the Reds cleanup hitter down the stretch last season.
Player A (2020-2022): .753 OPS, 108 OPS+
Player B (2020-2022): .745 OPS, 107 OPS+
Player B you are quite familiar with, as he has long terrorized the Reds since joining the National League Central, and is a player over whom I fawned tremendously in his earlier career. Of course, that was back in the days of the go-go dinger balls that flew over fences at the crack of any bat, and in the days since Fred Manrob chose to deaden things it’s been a much different story.
Anyway, Player A here is Jake Fraley, Resident Cincinnati Reds Cleanup Hitter™, while Player B is Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich. Go Jake, go!
Player A (2022, vs RHP): .500 SLG
Player B (2022, vs RHP): .498 SLG
Player C (2022, vs RHP): .498 SLG
Player D (2022, vs RHP): .492 SLG
Player E (2022, vs RHP): .491 SLG
Player A here is, again, Jake Fraley. Go Jake, go!
Player B is Vlad Guerrero, Jr., noted socker of dingers.
Player C is Byron Buxton, also noted socker of dingers.
Player D is Giancarlo Stanton, a mountain of a man who is also a noted socker of dingers.
And before you shout at me for comparing the sweet lefty swing of Jake Fraley against RHP to a trio of right-handed hitters, Player E is All Star Kyle Tucker, who socked a pair of dingers against the Philadelphia Philliams in Game 1 of the 2022 World Series.
Finally, here’s a list of baseball player names with whom you might have a smidgen of familiarity:
You’ll surely be surprised to know that in this instance, Player A is none other than Jake Fraley. And while this is a nice list with absolutely zero context, it’s actually how each of these players ranked in wOBA during the second half of the 2022 MLB season. 249 MLB players logged at least 150 PA during the second half of last year, with Ohtani’s .389 mark ranking 16th among them (Aaron Judge, for the record, topped all players with his absurd .521 mark). McNeil’s .388 was close on Ohtani’s heels, however, with Fraley sitting just behind him at .387. The other luminaries on this list checked in with marks of .385 (Arenado) and .384 (Turner, Machado, and Bregman), respectively.
I am not here to proclaim that Jake “India Pale” Fraley is the next Jay Bruce, I’m just here to point out that Fraley posted an .812 OPS last season while Bruce posted exactly an .812 OPS combined through his first six seasons in the bigs. I am not here to suggest that Jake “Lunch” Fraley is the next Ken Griffey, Sr., I’m just here to point out that Fraley’s 118 OPS+ last season matches exactly the 118 OPS+ that Senior put up in his career.
I’m not here to imply that Jake “Monty Python and the Holy” Fraley will lead the league with 26 HBP or win the 2015 Dinger Derby, I’m just here to point out that his .468 SLG with the Reds sits higher than the marks put up by Shin-Soo Choo (.462) and Todd Frazier (.463) while wearing the uniform.
I’m just doing my best to point out in a criminally under-researched way that Jake “Waiting to Ex” Fraley is a pretty solid hitter against righties when healthy and can probably do a thing or four offensively for the Reds if not tasked with too much next year.
Go Jake, go!