Yesterday I looked into Rougned Odor‘s disappointing numbers this year and concluded that there was nothing particularly wrong with him and that going forward we should see positive regression back to the numbers we are used to. Today I am going to go through a similar evaluation of Maikel Franco, who is sitting on a .213 batting average.
The first place I go to dig into the numbers is Franco’s FanGraphs player page. Here we can see that Franco’s walk rate is up a couple ticks and his strikeout rate is down a couple from 2016. His BABIP on the year is .216 so right off the bat we can probably assume that he’s not getting the best luck so far. Franco’s batted ball profile looks very similar 2016, if not slightly improved in most categories; and it already was a pretty good looking profile with a good portion of LD/FB’s and plenty of hard contact. The same thing can be said for his plate discipline; was good and looks even a little better this year. One thing that jumps out to me is he’s seeing 8% less fastballs than last year, down to the sixth lowest in baseball at 46%; which is a shame because Franco hit nearly .300 off fourseam fastballs last year.
Maikel Franco typically has his way with pitches in the middle and inside portions of the zone, but is weak on pitches low and away. This seems to be getting targeted slightly more by pitchers this year as his percentage of pitches low and away outside of the zone has gone up from 24% in 2016 to 29% this year. These are minor tweaks to how he’s getting pitched but that’s typical baseball adjustments; nothing to be alarmed at.
One relevant news item from about a week ago from Ryan Lawrence at the Philly Voice, we hear that hitting coach Matt Stairs has been working on getting Franco’s hands back to where they were in 2016; he’s been letting them drift up in his stance and causing his swing to get a little loopy. Again, nothing major here just trying to keep him thinking positive thoughts and not get into a mental funk.
So everything pretty much checks out as we’d expect. And is confirmed for us by the numbers as Baseball Savant has Franco as the 2nd largest underperformer in batting average, with his xBA at .280. The site xStats is only slightly less optimistic putting his xAVG at .269. Both pretty large discrepancies from his current .213. So bottom line is don’t completely give up on Franco. I’ve already seen him dropped in a couple of my leagues, and where I’m needing a 3B I’m grabbing him. Long term keeper or dynasty league players should definitely hold. At 24 years old there’s no reason I can find to doubt in Maikel Franco.