The Phillies Have A New Third Baseman
Among the many storylines of 2016, Maikel Franco‘s regression was perhaps the most discouraging. Franco spent the season mixing flashes of formidable hitting talent with an infuriating lack of approach at the plate. He did not swing at every pitch that came his way, but enough to render most of his natural talent moot. It seemed his potential would ever remain unrealized. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Phillies decided to move on from Franco, replacing him this year with a new budding young star at third base.
No one is certain how this player suddenly appeared on the Phillies roster. Some think the savvy Matt Klentak cashed in one of his PTBNL chips. Others say he manifested from a thought Matt Stairs had while pondering the art of hitting over a box of donuts at Tim Horton’s. Regardless of his origins, this unknown batter is a welcome change from the overaggressive third baseman the Phillies employed last year.
Consider the collected approach of this new hitter vice his predecessor, who seemed determined to hit every pitch into the upper deck of Citizens Bank Park, regardless of which stadium the team happened to be playing. He looks poised and competent at the plate, an unfamiliar sight to fans accustomed to a batting helmet flying off with every swing. If you think your eyes are misleading you, observe in numerical form:
|Maikel Franco Career||32.5%||77.2%||6.7%||16.6%|
|Phillies 3B 2017||22.3%||84.3%||10.5%||13.2%|
The bottom line results have been very average thus far, but there are underlying signs of a breakout coming for this emerging talent. His 38% hard hit rate trumps the meager 29% Franco has put up over his career. He has yet to launch a pop-up into the upper stratosphere, something Franco did with regularity. His .222 BABIP screams for some positive regression. With his patient approach, the hits are going to come.
At only 24 years old, the Phillies might finally have the young third baseman they always wanted Maikel Franco to be. As to what happened to Franco, one can only guess. For now, this unknown entity will don Franco’s uniform, and remain a player waiting to be named.