Jake Fraley injured his knee in April of last season, and a subsequent toe injury while trying to come back from said knee injury ended up with him shelved on the 60-day IL for much of 2022. When he came back to the Cincinnati Reds on July 30th of last year, however, he did so looking like a baseball Kool-Aid man looking for his next extra-base wall to smash.
We all saw some upside with Fraley when he came to the Reds from the Seattle Mariners. He’d shown he could mash RHP, when healthy, though the when healthy part was one of the biggest caveats of his acquisition. The move to GABP as his home park was surely going to help a bit, too, but I’m not sure any of us foretold of Jake Fraley emerging as one of the absolute best hitters on the planet.
I just said one of the absolute best hitters on the planet. I’m not sure that’s what he’s going to be for the rest of time, the rest of his career, or even the rest of the 2023 season, but it’s a statement that’s rooted in fact for at least one slightly cherry-picked portion of the sport’s history.
I mentioned that July 30th, 2022 date for a reason beyond just it being the date that Fraley logged back on with the Reds. Dating back to July 30th, 2022, exactly 140 hitters have accrued at least 220 PA at the big league level, and below is the complete list of players who have posted a higher wOBA than Jake Fraley in that time:
- Aaron Judge (.490)
- Mike Trout (.440)
- Jose Altuve (.434)
- Vinnie Pasquantino (.407)
- Bo Bichette (.406)
- Shohei Ohtani (.403)
That’s it. That’s the entire list.
Fraley’s .397 mark in that time sits tied with 2022 NL batting champ Jeff McNeil and ahead of guys you may have heard of like Paul Goldschmidt (.394), Freddie Freeman (.394), and Nolan Arenado (.383). That’s some elite, Hall of Famer territory for Jake, who has hit .305/.393/.530 in 234 total PA in that span.
Again, I have no clue how long this meteoric climb of Fraley’s will last. I will point out that while his .345 BABIP in that time is high, it’s lower than that of five of the names ahead of him on that elite list of company. He has not hit lefties at all - and nowadays he doesn’t even get that opportunity, as we saw when he was pinch-hit for last evening - and that’s certainly a qualifying aspect of this. But when he’s in situations in which he’s shown he can thrive, situations that fortunately arise quite often given his status as a left-handed bat, he’s shown for a decent bit of time now that he’s not only capable, but dang near frightening as an option.
Keep chompin’, Jake.