To understand the significance of Todd Frazier’s big day in the Mets’ 6-1 win over the Rockies on Sunday afternoon, consider where he and the team were a month ago.
Frazier was struggling to hit. The Mets were struggling to win. Jed Lowrie seemingly was about to return from an injury, threatening Frazier’s starter status at third base. He knew he needed to be better.
“I’ve been in this scenario before,” Frazier told Newsday. “I’m not a .160 hitter, I know that for sure. It’s time to make an impact.”
And yet the question existed: Could, should, would the Mets part ways with Frazier, who will be a free agent at season’s end?
The Mets never considered it. And Lowrie never returned, suffering a left hamstring strain that has him stuck in Port St. Lucie purgatory. Then Frazier began to turn it around with a series of productive games that reached a new climax Sunday at Citi Field.
Frazier was 2-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored as the Mets (32-33) nabbed a second series win in a row, only their second series win this season against an above-.500 team.
In the first, he launched a three-run homer to left. In the fifth, he added an RBI double on a fly ball into the leftfield corner (and later scored on J.D. Davis’ first career triple).
“I don’t know what else to say,” Mickey Callaway said. “He’s just doing everything right now. A few days ago, we planned on maybe him getting a day off. Obviously, we had to change that because he’s been going so good.”
Immediately before both of Frazier’s hits, Pete Alonso struck out swinging with a runner on third and less than two outs, a specific kind of situational failure that makes hitters and their coaches cringe.
“Todd did a hell of a job picking me up today and picking us up as a squad,” Alonso said. “Today it was pretty evident, if he didn’t do what he did, we may still be playing in an extra-inning ballgame or lost or been in a really close ballgame where we had to use more pieces out of the pen. Todd, he was unreal today.”
The banner game continued Frazier’s recent hot hitting. Since May 16 — days after the Mets learned Lowrie had suffered a significant setback, granting Frazier a reprieve of his questionable job status — he is hitting .346 with a 1.029 OPS, four homers and 13 RBIs in 23 games.
Frazier’s season slash line is up to .265/.336/.455, a bit better than his career averages. During this recent stretch, he has been much more disciplined at the plate. He swung at 36.8 percent of pitches outside the strike zone through May 15 but only 23.3 percent of those pitches since. He also has been attacking pitches in the zone more frequently: swings at 58.6 percent his first couple of weeks, 67.6 percent the past couple of weeks.
It took a little while, Frazier said, for him to feel comfortable again after returning from the injured list April 22.
“I was trying to get four hits out of one at-bat, and that’s not going to happen,” he said. “Pitch selection is huge . . . and just being relaxed. Keeping your mindset on the task at hand and focus on being prepared. My focus is on keep it short and keep it simple. It’s been fun so far. I’m pretty happy where I’m at.”
Davis’ line drive, which turned into extra bases when centerfielder David Dahl dived for and missed it, ended Jeff Hoffman’s day. The Colorado righthander gave up six runs and seven hits in 4 2⁄3 innings.
In seven shutout innings, Noah Syndergaard allowed only one hit, Nolan Arenado’s ground ball off the glove of a diving Adeiny Hechavarria. Syndergaard walked two and struck out seven.
Frazier offered more than enough offensive support. After a slow start, consider his season turned around. “You never know what would’ve happened if Lowrie came back,” Callaway said. “But the good thing is Frazier is getting it done. It’s off-the-charts good.”