The Kansas City Royals have built up a solid offense, including the likes of Whit Merrifield, Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier. That’s not to say that there aren’t questions (i.e. Adalberto Mondesi), but there aren’t going to be a lot of easy outs.
That brings us to one of the team’s offseason additions, having picked up Maikel Franco from the scrap heap. Will he be the latest renaissance project for the club, following in the footsteps of Soler, or is he simply keeping the seat warm until a better option presents itself (including an outfielder emerging, sending Hunter Dozier back to third base)?
Franco was once a hyped prospect, but he continued to fall short of expectations with Philadelphia leading to them finally giving up hope and cutting bait. Last year was the tipping point, as he struggled across the board:
389 At Bats
.234 Batting Average (91 Hits)
17 Home Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.297 On Base Percentage
.409 Slugging Percentage
.236 Batting Average on Balls in Play
None of the advanced metrics indicate much reason for hope, even though he may have been slightly above average:
- Barrel% – 6.9%
- Exit Velocity – 89.0 mph
- Launch Angle – 14.9 degrees
If that isn’t enough, his aggressive approach (36.8% O-Swing%) has led to consistently weak contact (33.5% Hard%) and popup issues (24.1% IFFB in ’19, 18.3% for his career). Couple that with an unwillingness to use the entire field (23.3% Oppo%) and while we’d expect better than a .236 BABIP it’s never going to be one of his strengths.
Overall he’s shown an ability to make contact, though when he sees anything besides a fastball there’s reason for doubt (Whiff%):
- Hard – 4.98%
- Offspeed – 17.82%
- Breaking – 23.36%
So why throw him a fastball? Franco saw 54.47% hard pitches in ’19, but that’s a number that could drop as he hits towards the bottom of the order with little protection.
Franco enters the year at 27-years old, so there will be hope that this is “the year” he finally puts it together. Maybe that happens, but it’s not a gamble we’d want to take.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball
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