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