COMMENTARY | In major league baseball, the word "young" is too often associated with late teens and early 20s. The energizing presence of extremely youthful phenoms like Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels or Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals tends to overshadow the likes of other players who are also at the outset of their major league careers but didn't prosper at an especially tender age.
Such is the case with Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier, who earned the Major League Baseball Players Association Players Choice Award for National League outstanding rookie last year at the not-so-young age of 26.
Frazier proved his worth in 2012 for the Reds, admirably filling the void left during the prolonged absences of regulars Scott Rolen and Joey Votto. Not only did Frazier rise to the occasion offensively, he also proved indispensable defensively at both first base and third base as a substitute for the Gold Glove winners he replaced.
But baseball is not all Frazier does, and his off-the-field life has garnered as much, if not more, positive media focus than his success on the field.
In his spare time last year, Frazier saved the life of a choking diner at a Pittsburgh restaurant, volunteered lots of time and money to help rebuild areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy, got married and pretty much lived life large through the peaks and valley of one absolutely roller coaster of a year for him in advance of what could be an even more thrilling season on the baseball field for him in 2013 than the 1998 Little League World Series, in which Frazier starred.
Perhaps all of the youthful infusion and memories of childhood excitement compelled Frazier to add Frank Sinatra's "You Make Me Feel So Young" to the Reds at-bat playlist when Frazier comes to bat at Great American Ballpark this year.
Like all players who are still early in their big league players (whether they are 20 or 27 years young) Frazier still has to earn his way to his place as an emerging top player in baseball. He's achieved a comfort level knowing that he is now the Reds regular at third base, and even if there are some dicey moments in the field early in 2013, there's also bound to be nights like he had in the 15-0 drubbing of the Washington Nationals Friday night, in which he had four hits, two home runs, three runs scored and four RBIs.
As the 2013 season progresses and many questions are answered about just how good the 2013 Reds are, much of that progression and success will rest squarely with one of the most personable players in the game today, if not the best "young" player in the game -- Todd Frazier.
Robb Hoff has worked as a freelance researcher for ESPN's production and news departments for the past five years. You can read his articles about the 2012 Reds season here.
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