Born: February 12, 1986
Town: Point Pleasant, New Jersey
Todd B. Frazier was born February 12, 1986 in Point Pleasant. Todd grew up in Toms River, as the younger of two talented baseball-playing brothers, Jeff and Charlie. Jeff, three and a half years older, was the heart of the Toms River team that went to the Little League World Series in 1995. Jeff was named New Jersey High School Player of the Year in 2001, starred on the diamond for Rutgers, and made his debut for the Detroit Tigers during the 2010 season. Charlie, a pitcher, also played pro ball but did not reach the majors.
Normally, that would make you the star of your family, but Todd was even better. As a 10 year old in 1996, Todd led his Pee Wee team to the national title, playing shortstop and pitcher. Two years later, in 1998, he took Toms River back to the Little World Series and won it all. Todd hit a leadoff homer and went 4-for-4 in the championship game, and was the winning pitcher in a 12–9 victory over a Japanese team from Kashima.
After a stellar career for coach Ken Frank at Toms River High School South, Todd turned down an offer from the Colorado Rockies (they drafted him in the 37th round in 2004) and followed his brother to Rutgers, where he starred for Fred Hill. As a junior in 2007, he batted .377 and led the Scarlet Knights with 24 doubles 22 homers, 65 RBIs and 87 runs and was named Big East Player of the Year as Rutgers went 42–21 and 20–7 in the conference. That June, the Cincinnati Reds took Todd with the 34th pick in the draft.
In four minor-league seasons, Todd showed a consistent bat and good line-drive power. He played all four infield positions as well as left field. He got the call to the majors in May of 2011 and batted .232 in 41 games for the Reds. In 2012, Todd began wearing #21 in honor of Paul O'Neill, his favorite player growing up. He was slated to be the team’s main utilityman. But injuries to Scott Rolen and Joey Votto thrust him into an everyday role. He responded with 19 homers and a .273 average, and was credited with keeping together the team during a potentially disastrous summer. The Reds were able to open up a double-digit lead in the second half and won the NL Central. Todd returned to the bench and saw action in four games during Cincinnati’s five-game loss to the Giants in the Division Series.
Despite this disappointment, 2012 was an eventful year for Todd. In June, he saved a man who was choking in a restaurant a few tables away by using the Heimlich maneuver. He credited a class at Toms River South for knowing what to do. Dr. Henry Heimlich himself presented Todd with an award. Todd was in the running for another award—Rookie of the Year—finishing third, with three first-place votes.
Later in 2012, after the season, Todd returned home and held an autograph signing to raise money for Hurricane Sandy Relief and the Toms River Little League. He was devastated when he saw the boardwalk at Point Pleasant—his first job as a teenager was running the basketball concession at Lucky Leo’s.
Todd regressed in his second full season with the Reds, batting just .234. However, he continued to mature as a power hitter. In 2014, he made his first All-Star Game, turning in a 20-20 season for Cincinnati, with 29 homers and 20 steals. He led the club in home runs, hits, runs and walks, and tied for the team lead with a .273 average and 80 RBIs. During the All-Star break, Todd reached the finals of the Home Run Derby. His brother, Charlie, pitched to him—fulfilling his dream to reach a big league mound. The following season, he won the Derby, out-homering Joc Pederson in the finals. The 2015 All-Star Game was held in Cincinnati, so he had the support of the hometown fans.
Todd played his fifth and final season for the Reds in 2015. The club was in rebuilding mode and had some good young infielders coming up through the system. On top of that, he had his best power season, slugging 35 homers and driving in 89 runs at the heart of an otherwise anemic offense. Todd hit his 100th career homer and first grand slam during the campaign. He also led the NL with 619 official at bats.
The Reds traded Todd after the 2015 season in a three-way deal with the Dodgers and White Sox. Todd landed in Chicago while Cincinnati picked up Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler—a pair of prospects who appeared ready to fight for everyday jobs—and minor-league slugger Brandon Dixon, a third-round pick out of Arizona.
Todd's first season in the American League was both productive and frustrating. Never known as a patient hitter, he saw very few good pitches with runners on base, especially with players like Avisail Garcia, Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera hitting behind him. Todd went up hacking, which produced a .225 average but also 40 homers and 98 RBIs. Todd was still being selective—he drew a career-best 64 walks—but also swung at some questionable pitches. Todd competed in the Home Run Derby again, reaching the finals before falling to Giancarlo Stanton, 20 to 13. In all, Todd blasted 42 balls out of the park during the competition.
Midway through the 2017 season, the White Sox made Todd available to contending teams. They traded him along with David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees. Todd had to switch to uniform #29 as #21, Paul O'Neill's old number, was on its way to being retired. Todd hit his first homer as a Yankee against the Reds.The day before, he banged into a triple play in his first at bat in New York.
Todd provided veteran leadership to a team of young stars. The importance of his contribution became clear in the postseason, as the Yankees staged magnificent comebacks against the Twins and Indians to reach the ALCS, where they faced the Houston Astros. After dropping the first two games, he delivered a three-run blast off Charlie Morton in Game 3 to trigger a 7–3 victory. In Game 4, with New York down 4–2 in the eighth, he singled to left to trigger the game-winning rally, and also added several sparkling plays in the field.