Pressure, Stress, and Hitting It Out of the Park

Todd Frazier is the third baseman for the Cincinnati Reds.  I’ve known Todd since his first day in professional baseball, way back in 2007.  He loves pressure, and rarely allows it to turn into stress.  Of all the people I’ve met in my life (and I’ve met a lot), he is the best I’ve ever seen at seeking and handling pressure.

Todd Frazier actually seeks pressure.  He wants to be at the plate when the game is on the line.  He wants to feel the weight of the situation, wants to put his skills to the test in a moment that really matters.


What happens if he strikes out with the bases loaded?  He can’t wait to be in the same situation again.  He may go 0-15, but can’t wait to get to the plate, because he’s confident the next at bat will be the one that turns things around. 


He doesn’t feel stress because he feels that his preparation, his attitude, and his approach to baseball are all under his control, and he believes they’re sufficient to meet the demands of the situation. 


He certainly feels the pressure, because his performance in that moment can have a serious impact on the outcome of the game.  He savors it, though.


Did you happen to see the home run derby during this week’s MLB All-Star Game festivities?  There were three rounds of competition, and each round gave the hitter a certain amount of time to hit as many home runs as possible.  Each round was a head-to-head matchup against another hitter.  In the first round, Prince Fielder (a 2 time home run derby champ himself) hit 13 home runs. 


Did you happen to notice when Todd came to the plate for the first time?  He was smiling, the kind of smile that says, “I can’t believe I’m here in this moment…and I love it.”   He started very slowly, but I couldn’t detect any signs of stress or frustration.  He found a rhythm, hit a flurry of home runs, and with seconds to go, hit No. 13 to tie.  In his first swing in bonus time, Todd hit No. 14 to defeat Fielder.

In round 2, Todd needed 10 homers to advance to the finals.  Same story.  He started slowly, and with 11 seconds to go, he had 8.  No. 9 and 10 came just as time ran out.


In the finals, Joc Pederson hit 14 home runs.  With 40 seconds on the clock, Todd had 12.  With 10 seconds remaining, he tied Pederson with 14.  On his first swing in bonus time, he hit No. 15 out of the park to claim the home run derby crown.


Classic Todd.  Pressure?  Of course-but no panic, no stress. Pressure like that makes him more focused, more at peace.  During the pressure filled last moments of each round, his face alternated between a frown of concentration and a smile that reveled in the moment. 


I admire Todd Frazier for many reasons, and his ability to flourish under pressure is one of them.  It makes me all the happier for him when he does something like this because he’s a great human being.  Todd will figure out ways to use his success to make others better…and that’s all you really need to know about him.