Being a sports fans means that you follow athletes on the TV, on the internet and occasionally at the park.?? But at major league stadiums, even ones that are sparsely attended, you don???t really get to interact with the players on any tangible level.?? Minor league stadiums are a little better.?? A lot of fan/player interaction happens at low A and below, but still it???s not really a testament to ???getting to know??? players. ??A few special fans get to “sponsor” players at short-season ball and house/feed players thus truly getting to know the players as people (I met Jameson Taillon???s sponsor family at a State College Spikes game).
All this is getting to the point that most Pirate fans don???t think of baseball players as ???people???, just athletes or celebrities. ?? This is wrong, as players are just people and are worth rooting for as people.?? This is especially true for players drafted in the later rounds or signed from the Dominican Republic, that didn’t receive a giant $5M signing bonus.
One particular person that I???d like to reflect on is Adam Frazier, who is on the cusp of reaching the stage of a major league career when the CBA allows for salary arbitration.?? We should be celebrating this achievement of a seemingly very good person and I’ll explain why.
Adam Frazier grew up outside Athens, GA (where the University of Georgia is located).?? He grew up in a little town called Watkinsville which has a population under 3000.?? ??He obviously was the best baseball player in the history of his high school and accepted a scholarship to play, not at the Georgia Bulldogs next door, but at SEC rival and baseball powerhouse Mississippi State.
Mississippi State is one of the??college baseball schools.?? Its stadium is considered the best college baseball stadium and it has produced dozens of major leaguers.???? Frazier was very successful at MSU winning the SEC tournament in 2012 along with the tournament MVP and having a College World Series appearance in 2013.
Back to the thought that these are people, not robots.?? I have a family connection to Mississippi State.?? My cousin played there with Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro, was drafted and has stayed close to MSU program ever since.?? He has told me about which MSU alumni worked hard or were lazy, were liked or disliked. The horde of MSU baseball alum pay attention to the latest batch of players and critique them.?? He said all the alumni liked Frazier because he was a good person and they appreciated how he played the game.?? This probably doesn???t surprise you.
Frazier was drafted in the 6th round in the 2013 by the Pirates a year after fellow MSU product and current teammate Chris Stratton was drafted and five rounds after another college teammate Hunter Renfroe was picked by the Padres.?????????? Frazier was part of a Pirates draft class which included Delaware Blue Hen Chad Kuhl in the 9thround. ??Frazier signed after the draft and was given a $240,600 signing bonus, which probably paid off all his college credit card debt, bought him a new vehicle and got a nice present for his parents with the rest going into the bank.
Frazier grinded through the minors and impressed me the times I saw him in Altoona. ?? First it was obvious how spraying the the ball around the field was so second nature, but also due to how willingly he signed autographs for the pestering kids (including my three sons).?? After more months and more at bats in the minors, Frazier was called up mid-2016 and made his entry into his first game at the LA Dodgers through this classic Hurdle double switch:
Neftali??Feliz replaces Sean??Rodriguez (2B) pitching and batting 7th
Adam??Frazier replaces Kyle??Lobstein (P) playing 2B batting 9th
Very fittingly the left-handed hitting Frazier singled in his first at bat against a LOOGY (J.P. Howell) and definitely still has the ball somewhere.?? The Pirates won the game, and I???m sure the Frazier family celebrated somewhere in Los Angeles with a late dinner and hopefully some congratulatory beers.?? The texts and tweets from friends and family were plentiful with calls on the phone from grandparents (they don???t know what Twitter is).
Again a reminder about baseball players being ???people???.?? That first game needs to a signal to us fans of this:???????with ONE day in the majors all MLBPA players get lifetime healthcare.??? ?? ??Lifetime healthcare.???? ???Making it to the show??? does something tangible that most fans don???t know.???? Good for you Adam.
Frazier stayed with the team the rest of the season and accrued 75 days with the team, including the all important 43rd day.?? ??With 43 days in the majors all major league players get a pension??of approximately $35k a year for the rest of their life.?? Even if the worst sickness comes, you???ll have healthcare and $35k a year, outside of Social Security, etc. i.e: ??you have no chance to ever be poor again.?? Congrats again Adam.
You know the rest of the Frazier story: ?? ??good utility player, great bat-to-ball skills, getting better at 2nd??base and supremely likeable.?? ??His work this year defensively kept him at 2nd??base and he was one of the more consistent members on the team.?? He would be a bench player on playoff teams, and his average and OPS would be a lot higher due to picking his matchups to suit more often, but he would be on the team.?? We like Adam, we???re glad to have him, he will not be DFAed or sent down.???? He???s around for a while.?? This leads us to the real great news for Adam: ??he’s reached salary arbitration.
Arbitration means you really made it.?? ??You???re now beyond comfortable and safe. ?? A $240k signing bonus isn???t a ton and ??$500k league minimum salary can get whittled down some with taxes, multiple homes, costly travel arrangements and an expensive lifestyle but that changes when you hit arbitration.?? ??Frazier would look to get around $2M this year in arbitration.???? The life he was able to live with league minimum salary will still be available but he???ll be able to put $1.5M more in the bank.?? At 27 years old $1.5M+ in bank and the possibility for more in the years to come really makes you smile when you think about Frazier the person.
Frazier is also the type of player that I could see the Pirates offering an extension to now that he???s at arbitration; maybe 3/$11M with a $6M team option and $1M buyout.?? This would give a good guy some $12M guaranteed and secure a good LHH infielder for the next few years.?? Fans would like it.?? I???d like it.?? We need some PR wins.
Congrats Adam.?? You made it to this life changing point.?? Your Pirates, Indians, Curve, Maruader, Power, Spikes, Bulldog, Warrior teammates and coaches are happy for you.?? We the fans are too.?? Keep grinding.
Mississippi State Post Script
This year my family and I attended our first Faith Night at PNC. ??I was awed by the humbleness of Josh Bell, ??Trevor Williams’ candor about his religion and was pleasantly surprised by Clay Holmes and Josh Stallings’ roles as clubhouse leaders.
Finally, we noted that Hunter Renfroe of the visiting Padres came and joined in the Faith Night festivities with the Pirates’ players and wives.?? It wasn’t until researching this article did I realize the Mississipi State connection with Renfroe. ?? I’m sure his ex-Mississippi State teammates, Frazier and Chris Stratton, probably invited him to join in the Faith Night event because…they’re good people.