When I say the name, “Maikel Franco” I’m sure a ton of Phillies fans reading this just cringed. The city of Philadelphia has had a very strong “love-hate” relationship with Maikel since his emergence into the majors back in 2014. And after an offseason where the Phillies front office chose to stick with Maikel over signing someone like Mike Moustakas (who is batting over .275 with 23 HRs), the polarization surrounding Franco has only increased.
Franco is currently batting just .221 on the season, and in his last 30 games he’s sitting at a .198 avg with an abysmal .258 obp. And despite knocking in 12 homers in 2019, he’s hit most of them in bunches, at one point going on a 26 game “homerless” streak in May and another 11 game streak in June. So how can someone with such awful stats be the key to a baseball team with lofty playoff aspirations?
First, let me clarify something about Maikel Franco. He’s a gap player who is batting 8th for us, this is not a guy we should have outlandish expectations for. Without a doubt our future at the third base position lies in the hands of Alec Bohm, who’s currently lighting up the minor leagues. Unless we make a radical push for someone like Anthony Rendon this summer, Franco is going to be the guy to hold down the hot corner for us until Bohm is ready.
Despite Franco’s poor numbers this particular season, his career numbers are actually pretty good if you compare them to other 8-hole hitters around the league. .249 avg, .301 obp, and a .686 ops are all more than enough for a position usually reserved for your worst hitter. Given that he’s gotten a little more adjusted to being surrounded by all-star caliber talent in Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto and Jean Segura, I think it’s reasonable to assume his 2019 numbers could start trending upwards to match his career averages.
Maikel is a power hitter, that much is obvious. He rarely uses both sides of the field and swings for the fences on almost every at bat. And although fans seem to lose their heads over this, I’m here to tell you that it’s actually good for the team. Maikel has homered in 12 separate games this season, and in those 12 games the Phillies are 10-2. Maikel has also had 10 “multi-RBI” games, and in THOSE 10 games the Phillies are 9-1. There is a direct correlation between Franco’s power and the Phillies winning, although Franco won’t be hot every game, it’s obviously apparent keeping him in the lineup is worth the risk.
Maikel Franco now has 4 go ahead HRs for the Phillies this year
Tied with Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins for most on team 👍🏼pic.twitter.com/2dpozqGvKb
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) June 26, 2019
Franco is a fantastic defensive player and easily the Phillies best option when it comes to defending that position, there is zero debate here. Franco’s “fielding percentage statistic” (which measures putouts+assists/putouts+assists+errors) is a .987%, the highest it’s ever been in his career and ranks .028% higher than the league average at third base. To put into perspective just how good this number is, seven time Golden Glove winner Nolan Arenado’s career high for defensive percentage is .983 (in 2019). So yes you read that correctly, Franco is technically having a better defensive season than Nolan Arenado.
Now obviously Arenado is the better defender, and he’s started in 15 more games than Franco this season, but my point remains valid. Franco is one of the best defensive third basemen in the league. When you have a player who’s that good defensively, and when hot is directly resulting in wins for your team, as a manager you have to keep him in the lineup. It appears Gabe Kapler has too looked at the numbers and realized Maikel’s importance, as he’s been back in the everyday lineup the last couple games.
Gabe Kapler was asked if Maikel Franco’s performance against the Mets gets him more starts this week #Phillies pic.twitter.com/EQNzBOBLu2
— Dave Uram (@MrUram) June 25, 2019
So in conclusion, despite all the hate Franco tends to get by the Philly Faithful, he realistically might just be the key to the Phillies making the playoffs in 2019.
-David Esser via Philly Sports Insider
~stats taken from MLB.com and baseball-reference.com~
~image taken from nbcsports.com~