Will the real Maikel Franco please stand up?
The numbers on Franco are frustrating; in fact, they’ve reached a point where it just doesn’t make sense. The Phillies third baseman seemingly has the “it” factor to be a good, if not great, ballplayer, but the numbers and the mechanics are all over the place.
His heroics on Saturday – a walk-off two-run single in the 10th inning – showcased just how exciting of a player he can be. Making it even better was the power he put on the opposite-field hit.
“My approach was just go out there and try to wait for my pitch,” Franco said after the team’s 4-3 victory over the Braves.
That approach he spoke of hasn’t been the case for him this season, at least on a visual scale. Franco has been caught chasing pitches, lunging forward, moving his feet and flinging his head – basically everything you’re not supposed to do while in the batter’s box.
Prior to that at-bat in the 10th, Franco had been a mess at the plate, going 3-for-32 at the dish with two of those hits coming in the same game. That means he had gone hitless in six of his last seven games before Saturday.
After missing out on the Phillies' back-to-back-to-back homers in a 5-2 win over the Braves Sunday, Franco is batting .171 (after an 0-for-4 showing in the matinee that got the Phils back to .500).
“He’s been hitting the ball as hard as anybody, just at guys and having some bad luck,” said starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff. “So to see that fall, it was just a great finish.”
That being said, through all of his struggles there are only four guys in the National League who have driven in more runs than the 16 that Franco has: Bryce Harper (20), Marcell Ozuna (20), Jake Lamb (18) and Travis Shaw (17). Three of those guys are batting .290 or higher and all four are above .250.
Logic suggests that Franco’s start to the season is an outlier, one that should balance out with his RBI totals where he’ll find himself closer to his career .253 mark as opposed to a .200 hitter. As Eickhoff suggested, he has hit into some pretty hard outs, but there have also been some ugly swings in between those.
The Phillies have now won four straight and have a day off before facing the Marlins next week at Citizens Bank Park. They are actually right in the mix in the early going in the NL East … all without having any consistency from Franco.
When the 24-year-old gets his timing back and starts driving balls like he did on his winning-hit, this team could start to seriously surprise some opponents.
Perhaps that swing on Saturday will be what gets the real Maikel Franco to not just stand up, but to stay up.