What will this veteran newcomer give the KC Royals in 2024?

A Kansas City newcomer hopes to build on a new approach at the plate

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman's 2024 player projection series. Over the next few weeks, we'll be reviewing how various Royals performed last year and predicting how they might perform this season. Up today is new utility man Adam Frazier.

The KC Royals brought in several impactful veterans this offseason in an attempt to build a more well-rounded team. Newcomer Adam Frazier, who'll make the Opening Day roster, brings an intriguing bat and defensive versatility to the lineup after a 2023 season that saw some significant changes in his game. It wasn't an addition at a position of clear need, but even as a utility player, Frazier could be a valuable member of the 2024 Royals.

If defensive flexibility is one of the benefits of bringing in Frazier, it comes with some caveats. According to Baseball Savant, Frazier had -15 OAA in 2023. That's concerning, but he's been a solid defender for most of his career. But even as a subpar defender, he played second base and both corner outfield spots, which is an important factor for bench players to work their way into the lineup.

Although his defense took a step backward, Frazier adopted a new approach at the plate to lift the ball and find more power. He posted the highest launch angle of his career and the highest pull rate since 2019, per FanGraphs.

All that came at the expense of more strikeouts but led to a career-high 13 home runs. Frazier isn't hitting for high average as successfully as he did earlier in his career, so his increased power output was a tangible offensive contribution. His final slash line was .240/.300/.396 (93 wRC+) in 141 games.

How FanGraphs projects Adam Frazier will perform for the KC Royals in 2024

FanGraphs (Depth Charts) projects Frazier will profile much closer to the hitter he was earlier in his career than he has been in the previous two seasons. Meeting his projected line of .266/.326/.380 with four home runs in 70 games would leave him as a reasonable option off the bench, but the Royals might hope they won't need his bat in the lineup every day.

How will Adam Frazier actually perform for the KC Royals this season?

The difference between Frazier's projections and his performance last year will ultimately change what to expect from him this year. Will he return as a batting average contributor with around an 11% strikeout rate, or will he lean more into a pull-happy approach for more power, but more strikeouts?

Per FanGraphs, Frazier had a career-high swinging strike rate in 2023 as his contact rate dropped from 87% to 82%. He drastically reduced his groundball rate, though, and any regression to his career norms could see Frazier hit a batting average upwards of .260 with more line drive power than home run power.

As a part-time player, a mid-90s wRC+ would be a perfectly acceptable outcome for Frazier, who can fill in at various positions. His 2023 season looked different than in years past, but he still strikes out less than the league average. The Royals are getting a former All-Star to round out their bench who will provide tough at-bats, even if it comes in limited playing time.

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