Todd Frazier could do no wrong in 2012. Frazier took over third base from an ailing Scott Rolen and proceeded to hit no-handed home runs, who bit off a little more than they could chew and finish third in NL Rookie of the Year voting. His 2013 season, by contrast, hasn't been nearly as heroic.
Frazier's slugging percentage has dipped by over 100 points (from .498 in 2012 to .391) for the Reds, who rank a middling 13th in the majors in runs scored despite Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo reaching base at the highest clip among NL hitters. A major reason why Frazier isn't driving in his teammates this year is that he's struggling against pitches thrown inside. He made pitchers pay when they tried to bust him in on the hands in 2012, but he's meekly grounding out on those pitches this season.
During his rookie year, Frazier slugged .585 versus inside pitches, tying him with Jose Reyes for the 12th-highest mark among major league hitters. In 2013, though? Frazier's slugging a mere .383 against inside stuff, which places him directly behind the banjo-strumming Elvis Andrus for 111th among qualified batters.
Frazier has lost his power stroke against inner-third pitches because he's rolling over far more often against those offerings this year. Here's Frazier's ground ball rate by location against inside pitches in 2012, and then in 2013.
Frazier's ground ball rate vs. inside pitches, 2012
Frazier's ground ball rate vs. inside pitches, 2013
Frazier hit a ground ball 30 percent of the time against inside pitches during his Jedi-homering, Heimlich Maneuver-performing 2012 campaign, well below the 32 percent MLB average. In 2013, however, Frazier has hit a grounder 46 percent of the time pitchers toss him something inside.
Given Frazier's issues on pitches tailing in on his hands, it might not come as a surprise that he's really scuffling against sinkers. He was basically a league average hitter against the pitch last year, but his ground ball rate on sinkers has spiked (from 53 percent to 62 percent) and his slugging percentage has plummeted (from .436 to .243).
The Reds don't need Frazier to be Superman. But if the club is to keep pace with the Pirates and Cardinals in brutally competitive division and Wild Card races, they'll need their third baseman to overcome his inner-third Kryptonite.