Stop me if you've heard this one before -- a young Yankees player with an electric offensive profile but leaves much to be desired in the field, causing fans concern and giving his manager no choice but to pull him from games late.
Ring a bell?
It sure sounds a lot like Miguel Andujar in 2018. Though he was a top hitter on the team, his defense cost the team some runs and led to him being pulled from games. History is repeating itself this year.
Although Clint Frazier has been a dynamic offensive force this year, his shoddy defense has led Aaron Boone to remove him late in games recently. Frazier's miscues have resulted in a few errors, a few extra bases and a few days in which he has not finished the game, being pulled for a defensive replacement.
After a particularly difficult week in the field at Baltimore and Kansas City, Boone pulled Frazier after just six innings in Monday's 5-2 win over the Padres.
"It's just a situation where you're just trying to put the best defense on the field in a game that you have a lead," Boone said, per the New York Post.
By the eye test, Boone is right. Fielding Frazier does not give the team its optimal defensive alignment.
The numbers don't lie, either. Frazier ranks 100th in fielding percentage (.944) out of the 101 outfielders who have played 200 innings this season. He is in the bottom 15 percent among outfielders in defensive runs saved at -5. Although his arm and speed are above average, there have been too many miscommunications and misplays around fly balls this year.
"There's room for improvement out there, and I'm working hard, and I'm trying to fix some things that shouldn't happen that keep happening," Frazier said. "I'm just trying to target the confidence that I have at the plate, and take it out there into the outfield."
That confidence at the plate has made it nearly impossible to take Frazier out of the lineup. He's hitting .385 with four home runs and 10 RBI over his last seven games, and is top-five on the team in average, home runs, RBI and OPS on the season.
It can be argued that some of the offense that Frazier is contributing is getting wiped out by his fielding misadventures. That ties up Boone's hands when it comes to creating the lineup each day.
"He's dropped some balls that he's gotten his glove on," Boone said, according to NJ.com. "I feel like his routes and his jumps have improved and keep getting better. I feel like he's getting better at the fundamental parts of playing the outfield."
Boone's latest attempt to create the best lineup has come by pulling Frazier late in games when the Yankees have the lead. He has been pulled seven times in his 18 games this month, including three of his last seven.
When Frazier comes out, Cameron Maybin or Brett Gardner enters. The two veterans have much more experience than Frazier, and they've been good enough at the plate and on the basepaths where the decline from Frazier's production hasn't been that big a drop-off.
Still, as good as Maybin and Gardner have been lately, they are veterans in their mid-30s who have been streaky this year. When the Yankees pull Frazier, they are losing his bat for the rest of the game. That's not easy to replace, and his absence would be felt if a game was to go to extra innings.
Ultimately, this probably isn't a long-term problem. Boone called Frazier's recent struggles "an aberration," and if Frazier was really this bad at fielding, the Yankees would have known about it by now.
The Yankees can deal with Frazier's fielding gaffes for now. His replacements have earned their playing time and he's still hitting in his reduced time. Everyone wins.
For the Yankees to hit their full potential though, and for Frazier to solidify his place on the Yankees amid any possible future trade rumors, he'll have to improve his defense. He doesn't have to be a Gold Glover out there, but he'll need to at least be average.