by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Maikel Franco was a hot name as he came up through the minors, and the hype grew greater when he hit the ground running in ’15. However a miserable first full season in the Majors has called his outlook into question. Just how bad were things? Here are the numbers:
581 At Bats
.255 Batting Average (148 Hits)
25 Home Runs
1 Stolen Bases
.306 On Base Percentage
.427 Slugging Percentage
.271 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Obviously the power doesn’t look too bad, but there is little else to get excited about. The question now is going to be whether or not he can turn things back around or if he’s fallen into more of a corner infielder role (as opposed to being viewed as a potential Top 5-7 option).
The first thing that needs to be noted is his atrocious plate discipline, which wasn’t much worse than his “breakout” 2015 campaign (SwStr% // O-Swing%):
It’s not that his strikeout rate was gaudy (16.8%), but the poor discipline helped lead to an inflated popup rate (17.1%) and suppressed line drive rate (20.0%). Those two things certainly don’t combine for a strong batting average, and his issues making contact against breaking balls (19.73% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (22.50% Whiff%) doesn’t help things as well.
The question is going to be if he can make the necessary adjustments, and at his age and given his track record (.280 hitter in the minors) there’s reason to be hopeful. That said, it’s impossible to project him to completely change his aggressive approach and average is never going to be his strong suit.
As for his power, he did show he could hit the ball out anywhere (15 HR on the road), but his split does raise a few eyebrows:
That said, his overall 14.7% HR/FB is reasonable and he has shown power coming up through the minors. Is he going to be a 40 HR hitter? It’s not likely, but being in the same range (24-29) is likely.
When we put those things together, here’s our 2017 projection for Franco:
.263 (151-575), 27 HR, 85 RBI, 75 R, 1 SB, .282 BABIP, .305 OBP, .456 SLG
Those certainly aren’t terrible numbers, though they aren’t spectacular either. The point is the rest of the fantasy community appears to be significantly down on him, which should mean a strong buying opportunity. While we’d rather not target him as our starting 3B, as a corner infielder he’s going to be a strong option. Let the rest of your league ignore him, because there will be value.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Reference
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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings: