Kansas City Royals Jason Frasor Getting By on Smoke and Mirrors

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There is something about being a member of the Kansas City Royals bullpen that seems to appeal to Jason Frasor. A solid middle reliever for much of his career, Frasor turned into another of the dominant arms that the Royals relief corp has become known for upon his donning of the powder blue. He has allowed only four earned runs in his 29 innings in Kansas City, striking out 25 against eleven walks. It has truly been fun to watch Frasor, at least statistically, turn into another weapon for the Royals.

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This season, at least according to the standard statistics, Frasor has been even better than last year. He has 0.79 ERA and a 1-0 record in his 14 games, striking out nine batters in 11.1 innings of work. Based on these numbers, it would seem that Frasor is, at age 37, in the midst of a career year. Guess there really is something to becoming a member of the Royals bullpen that resurrects a career.

However, Frasor’s success thus far may well be an aberration. While his 0.79 ERA is impressive, he has allowed ten hits and seven walks over this 11.1 innings of work. Based on that, his fielding independent pitching would indicate that Frasor’s ERA should actually be 4.57, a dramatic difference than what we have seen thus far. How is he managing to avoid giving up those runs?

There has definitely been quite a bit of luck involved. This season, opponents have hit a line drive on 31.3% of balls that have been put in play against Frasor, far above the league average of 20%. Yet, for all of the hard contact Frasor has given up, opponents have two extra base hits, a home run and a double, against him, leading to a 4.2% extra base hit percentage. The league average there, meanwhile, is 7.7%. Already, this seems unsustainable.

Jason Frasor has also allowed a .290 batting average on balls in play this year. While that is not significantly lower than the league average of .300, it is an anomaly given his extremely high line drive rate. Essentially, these balls are finding gloves, as the Kansas City Royals stellar defense has continued to prove why they are the best in the game.

Frasor has also done an incredible job of keeping the runners that have reached against him from scoring. Of the 48 batters that Frasor has faced, only two have scored, giving him an incredible 96.2% strand rate. The league average for runners left on base is somewhere between 70% to 72%, further indicating the type of luck that Frasor has had this season.

This is not to say that Jason Frasor is not a valuable member of the Kansas City Royals bullpen. His presence last season helped solidify a bullpen that, outside of the bullpen Cerberus, was quietly terrible. Now, slotted into more of a middle relief/specialist role, the Royals can use Frasor to the best of his abilities. Just do not be surprised if, seemingly out of nowhere, he starts to give up a few runs.

Jason Frasor has been excellent for the Kansas City Royals in terms of the raw numbers. It just cannot continue, based on the peripheral statistics.

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