HomeTeamsGuardiansA Deeper Look At David Fry, The Guardians’ Unsung Hero In 2024

A Deeper Look At David Fry, The Guardians’ Unsung Hero In 2024

We must have all missed it, but David Fry turned into prime Barry Bonds sometime in the last few months. All kidding aside, the versatile late-bloomer has been a big reason behind the Cleveland Guardians early success.

If the Guards are 37-19 – the second-best record in the American League as of Thursday – is mainly because of their unexpected contributors: Hunter Gaddis, Cade Smith, Tyler Freeman and, perhaps above all, Fry.

Fry wasn’t a heralded prospect in the minor leagues, yet he always managed to perform above the league average. Still, not even the most optimistic Guardians fan expected him to hit .353/.485/.608 with seven home runs and a 208 wRC+ in 132 plate appearances this season.

Nobody with at least 120 plate appearances has a higher batting average, OBP, slugging percentage or wRC+ than Fry. In fact, the league leader in wRC+ is Aaron Judge with 186. Fry is not yet qualified but if he was, he would top the league in the important offensive category.

The Guardians have enjoyed elite contributions from many players, including José Ramírez, Josh Naylor, Emmanuel Clase and Steven Kwan, but Fry is right up there with them because not only he has mashed, but he has the ability to cover multiple defensive positions.

Fry has started six games at catcher, eight at first base, and 10 in left field this season, and has also covered third base a few times. The power of versatility and a potent bat has lifted him in manager Stephen Vogt’s consideration and he has taken advantage of his opportunity like few other players in baseball have.

He is not a star defender but will hold his own at all of those spots, making him very “playable” all around the diamond.

There have been some gains in Fry’s offensive profile that suggest he might remain an offensive asset: perhaps not the tune of a 200+ wRC+ hitter because not even Judge can reach that level of consistent excellence, but he has the ability to remain a solid everyday player and that’s huge.

The most important improvement in his game has been plate discipline. Fry just stopped chasing bad pitches, with a 19.4 percent O-swing% (the rate at which a player swings at pitches out of the strike zone) that is far and away better than the 39.9 percent mark he had last year.

He also dramatically improved his contact stats: his swinging strike rate went from 14.4 percent last year to 9.2 percent this season, and his contact rate improved from 74.6 percent to 79.3 percent.

By being more selective, Fry has gotten better pitches to hit and taken full advantage of them. His hard-hit rate has gone from 39.4 percent in 2023 to 44.3 percent in 2024.

In the grand scheme of things, after the season is over and he has accumulated 400 or 500 plate appearances, Fry’s incredible numbers to this date might get lost in a much bigger sample. He might collapse, he could get injured, or simply slow down a little once pitchers have adjusted. However, nobody can deny that he has made tangible gains and some of them will stick, and he has forced himself into the Guardians’ long-term plans with huge performances.


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