It may be time to put out an APB for Maikel Franco.
The latest missing person of interest in the Phillies lineup, Franco has completely disappeared from from the box scores.
“For some reason, he just got out of sync,” said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin after Franco’s 0-for-3 showing on Saturday.
The goose egg next to his name marked the fourth consecutive hitless game for Franco, resulting in an 0-for-12 stretch from June 15-18. He has just four hits in 23 at-bats over the last seven days for a .174 average.
June has not been kind to the third baseman as evidenced by his .208 average for the month.
“We sure need his bat,” Mackanin said. “We need him to be what he’s capable of.”
The Phillies weren’t expecting to have a world-class lineup this season, regardless of Franco’s output. Yet, they surely didn’t foresee Franco boasting a .239 average after 69 games.
Last season, Franco flashed signs of greatness down the stretch en route to a .280 average with 50 RBI in 80 games. Franco still leads the team with 33 RBI and 11 home runs, but that’s not saying much for a ball club that ranks at or near the bottom in almost every hitting category.
What’s behind Franco’s slide as of late, and more so, over the course of this season?
Mackanin has noted Franco’s discipline as an issue as well as over-aggressiveness. He hasn’t been looking to drive pitches the other way but rather try to deliver the big swing all the time. That was why Mackanin was forced to move Franco, typically a three- or four-hole hitter, down to the sixth spot.
Franco’s struggles are at the forefront of an increasingly growing problem for the Phillies and their lack of offense.
“It’s totally frustrating for everybody,” Franco said. “Nothing good is happening right now. It’s frustrating for everybody.”
The Dominican Republic product will continue batting in the lower half of the order until he settles in at the plate. If the Phillies are going to make any noise this summer, they’ll need their third baseman’s hitting prowess to be rediscovered again as he focuses more on driving the ball and reaching base rather than trying to do it all with one swing.