2016 Phillies Report Card: Maikel Franco

Maikel Franco is simple to explain. Consider, his entire season can be reduced to a pair of text messages sent to the author on June 5, 2016:

1. [2:00 PM]: Nice job by Franco turning 3-0 into an out. What a spaz.

2. [2:43 PM]: Nice job by Franco turning 0-2 into a rocket home run. What a beast.

For those even moderately aware of Franco’s play this year, the above requires no exposition. You may proceed to the arbitrary grade at the end of this post, decide upon the level of injustice committed, and file your grievance accordingly. For those who remain unsettled by such an abrupt depiction of Franco, let’s examine how these claims are able to distill a player into 124 characters of text.

1. Nice job by Franco turning 3-0 into an out. What a spaz.

The sarcasm bounding from this message is apparent. The circumstances of a 3-0 count are very advantageous to the hitter, and completing the at bat with a weakly hit ground ball is, in fact, not a nice job by Franco.

Much less apparent is the question the sender is masking behind his ever present cynicism. Namely, “How does such a physically gifted hitter waste such a favorable count?” The answer to this question, and the many others asked in an equally frustrated manner, is conveniently circled in the image below.

franco-3-0-pitch

For clarity, that is a swinging strike on a 3-0 fastball. Pause. Regard again the count, the location of the pitch, and the complete miss by Franco. What a spaz.

2. Nice job by Franco turning 0-2 into a rocket home run. What a beast.

This is a true statement. Much sabermetric analysis has revealed that the 0-2 count is the most unfavorable for the hitter. Franco concluded the at bat with a home run. A rocket home run, no less.

To expound, this captures nearly all of Franco’s virtues as a hitter. Consider the bat speed required to confront an 0-2 count, and then make a recap of the ensuing four pitches read as follows:

Slider – 87 mph – ball
Slider – 86 mph – ball
Slider – 87 mph – ball
Fastball – 97 mph – rocket home run

As to it being a rocket, the metaphor is accurate. The eloquent Tom McCarthy, during his play call, referred to the home run as a bullet. Either implies a high velocity projectile, which is an apt description of this particular home run, and in a broader sense, any baseball squared up by Franco. What a beast.

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Abundantly talented, sufficiently frustrating. Repeat over six months of baseball, and you get 2016 Maikel Franco.

What a spaz. What a beast.

Grade: C

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4 comments

  1. Sam

    November 28, 2016 12:23 PM

    C seems a bit harsh for the best all around star on the team when he’s right. May be a symptom of our expectations more than anything. Hopefully, Stairs can get him right.

  2. Major Malfunction

    November 28, 2016 02:15 PM

    Oh what talent, but talent only goes so far at MLB level. He needs to stop swinging from his heels. He seems to have at least 1 swing per AB where his helmet has to be adjusted because he’s swinging so hard.

    What’s he has going for him is that his probability to swing at balls in the strike zone went up by 5% (74%) from the year although his contact with them remained about the same. His probability of swinging at balls out of the strike zone only increased by just under 3% (33.7%). So he is at least tends to wail away at strikes more so than junk. But its irrelevant if the swing is corkscrewing you into the ground.

    But he has precipitous decline in hitting movement pitches and more so with the fastball compared to 2015. It seems the only thing he improved on was change ups. I suspect he will continue to see more curves and sinkers since he just absolutely excelled at being a dead red hitter in 2015.

    Love the guy. He’s exciting to watch. But Franco needs to realize that they don’t give you extra runs for distance or exit velocity. Stairs was known to give it everything he had into every swing, so it will be interesting if he is able to work with Franco to reduce it.

  3. Andrew R.

    November 28, 2016 05:53 PM

    I think “C” is very appropriate. It’s not so much that he appeared to take a step back, but it seemed like he was making the same mistakes in Seotember that he was making in April. I have no problem with the occasional hard swing. He’s a guy that can do damage and if he wants to try and unload on one, fine. But be a smarter hitter.

    If you’re going to have the green light 3-0, you are taught back in little league, “one pitch-one zone.” If you can’t control yourself, then maybe he shouldn’t be given the green light as often as he does. Maybe the Mackanin will give him the red light not only on 3-0 pitches, but the occasional 3-1 pitches…all depending on the game situation, of course. He’ll have either Jospeh or Kendrick behind him, not very capable of doing damage in their own right. Keep the line moving, homers and ribbies will come…to good hitters with a good approach.

  4. Romus

    November 28, 2016 06:17 PM

    A “C’ would appear to be an appropriate grade for him.
    Though his defensive shortcomings as indicated by Saber-SDI rankings would probably drive that rating down into the minus category. Compared to the other NL third basemen he was ranked fairly low:

    Nolan Arenado 12.2
    Justin Turner 11.1
    Matt Duffy 6.3
    Kris Bryant 6.0
    Anthony Rendon 5.8
    David Freese 2.9
    Aaron Hill 2.3
    Hernan Perez 1.9
    Eugenio Suarez 1.1
    Martin Prado 0.2
    Matt Carpenter -0.6
    Yangervis Solarte -2.0
    Maikel Franco -2.7
    Adonis Garcia -5.7
    Jake Lamb -6.6

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