Unlikely All-Star: David Fry Is Integral to Guardians Strong Start

One of the most unique players in baseball, Fry is helping the Guardians forge a new offensive identity in 2024. Could his work at the dish and all over the diamond earn him a trip to the All-Star Game?

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JUNE 08: David Fry #6 of the Cleveland Guardians celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Miami Marlins during the fifth inning at loanDepot park on June 08, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Guardians have shot their way to the top of AL Central behind MLB’s top bullpen and an overhauled offensive approach.

After finishing in the bottom 10 in baseball in slugging over each of the past two seasons, the Guardians entered the season looking to do more damage.

The result? A team that ranks eighth in ISO and runs scored, 11th in wRC+, 12th in home runs and 13th in slugging percentage.

Much of the team’s offensive improvement has come in the form of its stars stepping up, with Steven Kwan, Jose Ramirez, Andres Gimenez, and Josh Naylor each looking the part of an All-Star at their respective positions. But there’s one position player who has burst onto the scene in Cleveland, making his own case, and that’s David Fry.

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Now, it’s not that often that 28-year-old utility players in their second MLB season become All-Stars, but Fry is blazing his own path to the Midsummer Classic this year.

Fry is rocking a .314/.440/.543 slash line — good for a 180 wRC+ — through 175 plate appearances with eight home runs, four stolen bases and a 14.9% walk rate. And, oh yeah, he’s spent time at five different defensive positions for the Guardians.

Originally a seventh-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2018 draft, Fry made his way to the Guardians organization in 2022 as the “player to be named later” in a deal that sent J.C. Mejia to Brew City.

David Fry’s All-Star Case

Traditional: .314/.440/.543, 8 HR, 28 R, 30 RBI, 29 K, 26 BB, 4 SB
Advanced: 17.1% K%, 14.9% BB%, .423 wOBA, 180 wRC+, 2.0 fWAR

While Fry’s versatility helps him stay in the lineup, he makes the All-Star ballot as a designated hitter. Of course, he could earn his way into the game once the starters have been decided, but let’s compare his case to other AL DHs.

There are six other DHs on the ballot with an OPS above .800, including Yordan Alvarez, Kerry Carpenter, Josh Jung, Ryan O’Hearn, Kevin Pillar, and Brent Rooker. 

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Currently, Jung and Carpenter are on the IL, which will certainly affect their bids. So realistically, Fry should be in the mix to earn a starting role, but it seems likely that a bigger name like Alvarez will have the advantage in a voting scenario. 

But beyond who the fans deem worthy to go to the All-Star Game, Fry’s case writes itself.

Among all players with at least 150 plate appearances, he ranks third in OBP, fifth in wRC+ and wOBA and 12th in AVG and SLG. 

SituationVs. LHPVs. RHPHomeAwayHigh LeverageMedium LeverageLow LeverageBases EmptyRunners on
wRC+239127200166286202137150220

Not only has Fry succeeded this season, he has found success in all situations. While he has smashed lefties, he still has a wRC+ north of 125 against right-handed pitching. He has hit well at home and on the road, with and without runners on base, and in all leverage situations, there hasn’t been anything pitchers can throw at him to get him out. 

If you’re looking for a reason not to send him to the All-Star Game, there is nothing to point to that would support your case.

How Has Fry Become An All-Star-Level Hitter?

In 58 games in 2023, Fry displayed an ability to barrel the ball at an elite clip but wasn’t able to post the excellent results he has in 2024.

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While his barrel rate has actually dropped a few points this season, what the Guardians’ new-found star has done is continue to hit the ball hard while cutting down on strikeouts. Fry is chasing less, swinging and missing less but making more contact when he does take the bat off his shoulder.

This has helped him combine a 89.5 average exit velocity with a walk rate just under 15%, something only five other players in baseball — Aaron Judge, Kyle Tucker, Kyle Schwarber, Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, and Lamonte Wade Jr. — are doing.

That’s pretty good company to be in.

The question now for Fry, is if he will be able to sustain this level of play throughout the year.

If we look at the expected stats he’s posted so far, we’ll see that they perhaps don’t show a top-10 hitter in the sport, but they do paint a picture of a pretty darn good player. We can also see that Fry is running an unsustainably high ..346 BABIP, but once again, even with some regression on balls in play, there shouldn’t be a major drop-off coming.

To go along with solid exit velocities, Fry has continued to hit the ball at ideal angles, dropping his flyball percentage by nearly eight percentage points from 2023 and almost replacing all of those swings with line drives.

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If Fry can continue walking at the rate he has so far in 2024 while keeping his strikeouts down and hitting the ball hard, there should be no reason for him not to remain a key part of the Guardians’ offense.

Utility Is The Name Of The Game

While Fry won’t be collecting a Gold Glove for his defensive work this offseason, there’s no doubt his ability to line up all over the diamond has been valuable for Cleveland in its run to the top of the AL Central.

Fry has played first base, third base, both outfield corners, and behind the plate, with a handful of appearances at DH. His versatility not only gives manager Stephen Vogt the chance to keep Fry’s bat in the lineup on a nightly basis, but it has helped keep the Guardians’ best bats either take a day off when they need it or slide into a game as the DH themselves.

It also proved valuable when Kwan hit the injured list in May, allowing Cleveland to keep winning while its most valuable player this season went on the shelf.

Defensive versatility may not earn you many trips to the All-Star Game, but for Fry, his filling holes in the Guardians’ defense has been instrumental to the team winning games. The team is 35-16 in games that Fry has played and 28-10 in games that he started.

Simply put, Fry has been an under-the-radar difference-maker and important contributor for one of the best teams in the league. If he were to earn a spot in Texas this summer, he might go down as one of the most unique All-Stars in the history of the game.

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