clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Maikel Franco: The Forgotten One

New, 5 comments

Ray profiles Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco and opines that he could easily outperform his ADP in 2016.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

In his first full season in the minors, Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco hit .280 with 14 home runs, 70 runs scored and 84 RBI in 554 plate appearances. In 2013, he hit .320-.356-.569 with 31 home runs, 89 runs scored and 103 RBI splitting time in High A and Double A. His performance cemented Franco as the Phillies third baseman of the future and he, along with shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford, was the talk of the Phillies farm system. He began the 2014 season in Triple A and hit "just" .257-.299-.429 with 16 home runs, 64 runs scored and 78 RBNI, causing many to wonder if his 2013 season was a fluke.

He ranked in many of the Top 100 prospect rankings including Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, John Sickels and MLB.com, but was never considered one of the better hitting prospects in the minors, never getting much hype, and never getting as much hype as Kris Bryant and others. There was questions about his hit tool and how much power he would have at the highest level.

Franco worked with Phillies minor league instructor Charlie Manuel after the 2014 season, and began the 2015 season raking in Triple A before his eventual call up to the big leagues. After his call up Franco silenced a lot of those who had questions about his hit tool, as he hit .280-.343-.497 with 14 home runs, 22 doubles,  45 runs scored and 50 RBI in just 335 plate appearances. Including his performance at Triple A, Franco hit 18 home runs and drove in 74 runs in just 113 games and just under 500 plate appearances. Over 162 games, he would have hit 24 home runs and driven in 93 runs according to Baseball-Reference. He showed that he could hit for average and power, while not striking out a ton either.

Below is a comparison of Franco's 2015 season to Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant:

Name

G

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

BB%

K%

ISO

BABIP

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

Maikel Franco

80

335

14

45

50

1

7.80%

15.50%

0.217

0.297

0.280

0.343

0.497

0.360

128

Kris Bryant

151

650

26

87

99

13

11.80%

30.60%

0.213

0.378

0.275

0.369

0.488

0.371

136

While Bryant was healthy all season, Franco missed most of August and all of September after being hit on the left wrist with a pitch in Arizona. He did return for nine plate appearances in the last weekend of the season, however. Otherwise, Franco's performance could have been much closer to Bryant's seasons stats accumulated over 151 games. That said, Franco doesn't strike out as much as Bryant, but also doesn't walk as much. Surprisingly, Franco hit for more power, as his .217 isolated power and .497 slugging percentage was slightly higher than Bryant's .213 ISO and .488 SLG.

Franco's power could benefit from a few more fly balls and more hard contact in 2016, as his fly ball rate dropped from 39% (albeit in just 59 plate appearances) in 2014 to 35% lasts season.

Bryant certainly swung and missed more often than Franco, and his 16.5% swinging strike rate was one of the worst in the game. Here is a list of guys who had a higher swinging strike rate than Bryant last year:

AvIsail Garcia

Marlon Byrd

Ryan Howard

That's it!!! And here is a list of hitters who ranked just behind Bryant in swinging strike rate last season:

Michael Taylor

Chris Davis

Carlos Gonzalez

J.D. Martinez

Mark Trumbo

Bryant's strikeout rate is not something many fantasy owners focus on when evaluating him, but when presented with this information above, there is some inherent risk when drafting him this season. The swing and miss in his game is a risk fantasy owners must consider on draft day.

Franco's average draft position according to NFBC currently sits at 105.73, while Bryant's ADP is 10.83, meaning you have to draft Bryant in the first round of drafts this season, while you can grab Franco in the late seventh to early eighth rounds right now. Their performance for fantasy purposes could be much closer by the end of the 2016 season than their current ADP's indicate. While Bryant is getting all of the offseason love from the fantasy community, Franco appears to be the forgotten one at the third base position, so he comes with value on draft day.

Below you will find ZiPS projections for both Bryant and Franco for 2016:

Franco: 73-21-84-2-.270-.313-.471

Bryant: 94-29-106-14-.263-.362-.485

Bryant is projected to hit for more power, drive in and score more runs and even toss in double digit steals, but I think that might be the best case scenario for Bryant in 2016, and I can see Franco exceeding ZiPS projections across the board. Like I said, I wouldn't be surprised to see Franco's end of season stats to be much closer to Bryant's than the projections are indicating.