It’s Time to Get Excited About Maikel Franco, Phillies Fans
Move over, Fishtown! The New York Times is excited about something else in Philadelphia. Okay, so this isn’t the NYT hunting out a neighborhood in Philly and writing things about it that are possibly hilarious to locals. This is even weirder: The paper is waxing poetic about a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Yes, Phillies fans, even the Times has noticed: Maikel Franco is tearing it up. The story opens with a few paragraphs of praise then quotes Yankees manager Joe Girardi: “The way he swung the bat, the defensive play that he made, the arm strength that he showed — obviously he’s a very talented kid. And to be thrust into a major league lineup hitting third at such a young age is extremely impressive.”
Franco was promoted May 15th, and has since been mashing huge homers for the Phils. He’s driven in five runs each in consecutive games against the Yankees, helping the Phillies score 11 runs and win both games. Want some cool stats to go along with that?
Maikel Franco is first Phillies player, period, to have back-to-back 5 RBI games, since the RBI stat became official in 1920.
— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) June 24, 2015
Maikel Franco is:
– 3rd rookie with 5 RBI in 2 straight games
– 1st player EVER w/ 5 RBI in 2 straight games vs NYY
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 24, 2015
Last night, he hit a three-run homer to give the Phillies a 6-3 lead in the fourth, then broke a 6-all tie with a two-run double in the top of the ninth. The previous game he hit two homers. For the season, he is hitting .319, slugging .604 and already has 10 homers. Like newer statistics? Franco has more offensive WAR than any other player on the Phillies, despite playing just 37 of a possible 73 games.
And he made this diving stop on Monday.
Phillies fans may want to be wary. They may remember Dom Brown’s up-and-down 2013 — which included two scorching months — and think of Brown’s disappointing 2014 and his .161 average in 2015. Crashburn Alley notes projections for Franco have him falling off a bit.
But there are reasons to be optimistic! As Crashburn’s Bill Baer notes, scouting reports on Franco tabbed him as having trouble with off-speed stuff, and said he’d struggle on defense at third base. He’s been a little below average on changeups, but not too bad for a rookie. “Franco is known as a free-swinger, but his 31.4 percent swing rate on pitches out of the zone is essentially average,” Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards writes. And he’s just 22!
I suggest diving head-first into Francomania. Forget about how he might do in the future. What else are you going to do this summer as a sports fan? The Phillies have the worst record in baseball. Reports say the Rangers are trying to figure out how to trade for Cole Hamels, the team’s best player. The Union have the fewest points per game in MLS. There’s not a women’s soccer team any more. The one frisbee team is 0-10 (okay, the other one is 6-3 — obviously, Philly has two frisbee teams). Either you’re getting on the Maikel Franco bandwagon or you’re watching tennis at Villanova with Billie Jean King.
You don’t need stats to help you think this time. Go all in on Maikel Franco. Right now, he’s the athlete Philadelphia fans need.
Follow @dhm on Twitter.