Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Out Of Philadelphia, Will Maikel Franco Finally Live Up To The Hype?

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The Phillies finally gave up on Maikel Franco, who was once viewed as an up-and-coming superstar but never quite figured it out. Given the potential that was once seen in him, and still at just 27-years old, it makes sense that the Royals would roll the dice and see if they could get him to figure it out. However there are quite a few underlying marks that make you wonder if he ever will:

Hard%

For a player who was once seen as having the potential to hit for a lot of power, he’s never been able to figure out how to hit the ball hard consistently. In fact his 33.2% Hard% in ’19 was his career best, as he’s routinely been at 30.9% or worse. That has led to a poor 18.0% line drive rate for his career, and for a player with no speed it’s a troublesome mark.

Pull Heavy Approach

Franco was “better” last season, but he owns a career 21.3% Oppo%. That type of pull heavy focus is going to make him subject to the shift, and again give him little upside in terms of his BABIP or AVG.

Popups

Is he trying to hit for significant power? Is it just the way he approaches his at bats? Whatever the reason popups have been a problem since he first stepped foot on an MLB diamond and it’s only been getting worse:

  • 2016 – 17.1%
  • 2017 – 16.3%
  • 2018 – 19.0%
  • 2019 – 24.1%

You combine those three things and there’s no chance that he’s capable of carrying an elevated BABIP. You also have to wonder if opposing pitchers are going to start throwing him fewer and fewer “hard” pitches, considering his career marks against breaking balls and offspeed pitches (AVG // SLG):

  • Curveballs – .237 // .446
  • Sliders – .197 // .371
  • Breaking Balls – .231 // .438

No one is going to argue that there isn’t power in his bat and he has always shown that he can make consistent contact, but there are far too many negatives hanging over him. It’s a lot of adjustments that he’d need to make, and it’s not impossible that he does, but to think that he’ll suddenly live up to the hype would be a mistake. As a late round gamble why not, but at the end of the day he’s not likely to make much of an impact.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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