A Look at Maikel Franco: Philadelphia's New Third Baseman
Even though it is a small sample size, Maikel Franco is off to a promising start for the Philadelphia Phillies as their new third baseman.
Perhaps the best thing Franco has going for him in 2015 is that he doesn’t seem to be competing with anybody for the third base job. Cody Asche’s demotion to Triple-A for the purpose of working on his ability to play left field helps solidify Franco’s role as the team’s third baseman of the future.
His early-season improvements compared to his 2014 numbers show promise for the Phillies if they do decide to stick with Franco at the hot corner for the long term.
Thus far, Franco’s slash line is .233/.283/.442. His wOBA is .314, and he's already surpassed his walk and home run total from last year in 13 fewer at-bats. His current batting average on balls in play is .222. Because the league average hovers near .300 in this statistic, Franco should experience some better luck when he puts the ball between the foul lines. That means his numbers should improve as he receives more consistent at-bats like he did in the minors.
Even though his current numbers aren't anything to drool over, there will definitely be room for improvement as the season progresses.
Despite swinging at a lot of pitches outside of the strike zone (seen in the table below in the O-Swing% column) in both 2014 and 2015, he has been making more contact overall this year than he did last season.
|O-Swing %||Z-Contact %||Contact %||SwStr %|
Franco is hitting the ball when it is inside the strike zone frequently (seen in the Z-Contact% column), and he is also swinging and missing less frequently this year (evidenced by the SwSt% column).
Not only is Franco making more contact, he is also making better contact compared to his short stint last year.
According to FanGraphs, he’s greatly improved his contact percentages. These statistics are based on hang time, trajectory, and landing spot; exit velocity is not considered.
Franco is generating harder contact and contacting the ball more frequently, a promising sign for his development.
Franco’s stock can only go up since he’ll be getting all the playing time at third base and will hopefully keep his spot as the number five hitter in the Philadelphia order.
The Phillies don’t exactly have a potent lineup of hitters, but Franco provides great potential with a high ceiling for consistent production.