On December 16, 2015 White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn executed a three team deal, sending a trio of prospects to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for former Cincinnati Reds third-baseman Todd Frazier. That deal would change the White Sox clubhouse more than anyone ever could have expected. The thirty year old slugger from Toms River, New Jersey will prove to be the biggest gain by an single team in the 2015-2016 offseason when it’s all said and done.
Frazier brings something more important than his slugging abilities to the South Side in 2016, and that is his natural ability to lead a professional baseball team to success. Frazier a multi-sport athlete growing up, the youngest of three brothers, and a father who had a successful NCAA basketball career at Moorehead State (University) in Kentucky, always had big shoes to fill growing up.
His father Charlie Frazier, Sr. was a 6’8″ basketball player at Moorehead State, and then went on to have a long career as an educator, as well as a High School basketball coach in their hometown of Toms River, New Jersey. Todd’s oldest brother Charlie Jr. was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the sixth round of the 1999 MLB Amateur Draft. Todd’s next oldest brother Jeff was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the third round of the 2004 MLB Amateur Draft, after a successful baseball career at Rutgers University which included breaking the school home run record as a freshman, as well as winning a conference batting title as a junior.
Todd’s older brothers Charlie, and Jeff now run a successful baseball academy in their home town of Toms River. Frazier Baseball has expanded from a small operation consisting of a couple batting cages, and a few private lessons a month, to a full service baseball instructional academy, and travel baseball program that touches the entire tri-state area of New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York. Check out Frazier Baseball online at http://www.frazierbaseball.com/
In 1998 Todd began to fill those big shoes as he led his hometown of Toms River to a Little League World Series Championship. Todd broke his older brother Jeff’s home run record in high school at Toms River South High School, before eventually going on to play baseball at Rutgers University just like older brother Jeff did before him. Again Todd would break another record held by his big brother Jeff, as he broke the Rutgers school home run record as a junior.
"It was one of those things, where I had the record for a couple of years, and then here he (Todd) comes (breaking his school records)! –Jeff Frazier on kid brother Todd surpassing his records."
In 2007 Todd won Big East Player of the Year as he hit for a stellar .377 batting average, before being drafted 34th overall by the Cincinnati Reds in that same year.
Fast forward a few years now, after Todd made two All-Star Game appearances as a Cincinnati Red, after the scintillating Home Run Derby victory this past summer when he had the entire city of Cincinnati rallying around him that night in, and around Great American Ballpark.
Come all the way to this past December, when the news broke that the three team trade between the White Sox, Reds, and Dodgers was finalized. Todd Frazier just six months removed from being the hero of Cincinnati, was dealt for a trio of prospects to the White Sox. The news shook the Frazier family, this is what
older brother Jeff told me about their feelings after the news broke:
"It was a shock to me, to Todd, and too the family. I’m not going to lie, I thought nothing of the trade rumors, especially after the way the city rallied behind Todd last year at the Home Run Derby. I’ve been through the major leagues, and I know how it goes, but I never thought that a player of that caliber, that it would happen to him (Todd).I spent a lot of time talking about it with Todd, the rumors leading up to it last season, and I honestly thought… to be truthful, I thought that Cincinnati was going to be his home forever. You know, Todd took the town by storm when he was there. Eventually it wasn’t just the Cincinnati Reds… it was the Todd Frazier, and the Cincinnati Reds. Todd was huge there, he took that city over. – Jeff Frazier on the news that Todd was heading to the White Sox."
While Todd was shocked, and nervous about the move to the White Sox initially, he got some calming words from his brothers, and Todd decided that if he could take the city of Cincinnati by storm in just a few short seasons… that he would have no problem doing the same in Chicago. “You know what man?! I’m going to take over Chicago, let’s do go baby!” were the words that Todd spoke to his brothers as he turned the page, and set his sights on the upcoming spring training.
Early in spring training Todd could feel that the White Sox had something special going.
"Listen, we show up in the morning, we eat breakfast, and as soon as we hit the field we’re (the White Sox) like “Let’s just focus on getting better today”When you have a team with this kind of talent, that works as a team, rather than individuals something special can happen. This is going to be good… really good! -Todd Frazier during spring training in March."
Todd came in, worked hard, and quickly established himself as a clubhouse leader on the South Side. The results are showing thus far, after clubbing 49 home runs this spring the White Sox have jumped out to a 5-2 record, good for first place in the American League Central Division.
While Frazier’s average sits at just .207 today, he still has two home runs, and six runs batted in to lead the team in both categories. Most importantly he is providing protection for Jose Abreu, who’s hitting .292 with two homers, and four runs driven in thus far. “I got your back, big dog!” is what Frazier is trying to instill in Abreu, and the more comfortable that the two become with that statement, the more production we will see out of the middle of the White Sox lineup in 2016, and hopefully beyond.
Frazier said this spring that “If this is what the atmosphere is going to be like, I’d like to play here for the rest of my life”. We can only hope that’s true if this is what Frazier brings to the table on the South Side.