CHICAGO -- Based on Todd Frazier's last two games, the White Sox third baseman looks primed to defend his title in the 2016 T-Mobile Home Run Derby Monday at Petco Park in San Diego (8 p.m. ET/5 PT on ESPN, simulcast live on MLB.com).
During Friday's loss to the Braves, Frazier went deep in the fifth inning against Matt Wisler. In Saturday's 5-4 victory, Frazier barely cleared the left-center-field fence and the leaping attempt by center fielder Ender Inciarte for a two-run shot off of All-Star Julio Teheran in the second.
But Frazier wasn't focused on the Derby as much as his overall production improving. Yes, he has 25 home runs with one game before the All-Star break, but he also doubled, drove in three and took a base hit away from A.J. Pierzynski in the fifth.
His .215 average and .308 on-base percentage certainly aren't ideal, but they don't seem to bother Frazier when assessing his first half. Those statistics are offset by the homers, 57 RBIs and a .481 slugging percentage.
"I feel stronger, I feel more relaxed, a little quicker swing," Frazier said. "For me, it's hitting good pitches. I say this all the time. If I'm swinging outside the zone, I'm going to have some trouble. I feel really good at the plate right now."
"He's doing a little bit of that, plus the home run," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura when asked about Frazier making better contact. "Might be just the excitement of going to the Home Run Derby, I don't know. His swings have looked a lot better. He's realizing maybe you can shorten it up somewhat and still get it over there. I know they had a big shift on him."
Carlos Gonzalez stands as Frazier's first-round Derby opponent, and Frazier has made no secret of the excitement in defending his crown, even though he was not an All-Star selection. His brother, Charlie, will pitch again, and his brother, Jeff, will be his "hype man," with the family having a plan in place.
His shot Saturday gives Frazier the look of a solid choice to repeat. Then again, swinging in the Derby is different than swinging with a regular-season game on the line.
"That's a totally different swing," said a smiling Frazier. "Different bat, too."