In 2016, Maikel Franco finished as the 19th 3B (according to ESPN’s player rater) with a fantasy line of 25 HR, 67 R, 88 RBI, 1 SB and a .255 AVG. Not bad but certainly not cracking the top 10 at 3B with that line. Franco is a near-zero in steals but has upside in every other category. Franco definitely needs to make some adjustments but the foundation is there for a 2017 breakout.
Contextual stats (R and RBI) are majorly influenced by the team around the player. As we are all aware, the Phillies have been garbage for a while now and that has impacted Franco’s overall fantasy potential. In 2016, Franco took the majority (~60%) of his PAs out of the 3rd spot in the order with the rest mainly being out of the 4th and 5th spot. The Phillies ranking in R and RBI out of those spots?
This is what it looks like when you let Ryan Howard take 360 PA and bat sub-200. The Phillies had a .359 OBP out of the leadoff spot in 2016 thanks to Odubel Herrera. Amazingly they only had a .309 OBP out of the 2nd spot. We call that horrendous lineup construction. It’s hard for Franco to cash in RBI opportunities when the 2nd spot in the order straight sucks at getting on base. It’s also hard for Franco to score runs when Ryan Howard is striking out 30% of the time. Below is the currently projected batting order according to Roster Resource.
|#||Player||Career OBP||Career SLG|
It’s still a rough lineup, but it looks significantly better for Franco’s chances at good contextual stats. Franco is likely to have a ton of OBP in front of him. I think there’s a chance that this lineup shakes out Hernandez, Herrera, Franco and then Kendrick which just ups Franco’s RBI potential that much more. Either way, it looks very promising that there won’t be a .300 OBP guy in front of Franco in the order. I expect him to surpass his 88 RBI from 2016. I’m not quite sure he can get to 100 without a big jump in his batted ball skills but I think mid-90s is a likely outcome. Franco’s R situation is less rosy. Tommy Joseph is certainly an upgrade over Ryan Howard even if you’re skeptical of his power (I’m not). That would certainly add some more runs to Franco’s total. Franco’s OBP took a nose dive last year, mostly due to a drop in BB and a BABIP decrease. If the BABIP jumps up some he’ll be on base more and even more likely to score. Best case scenario Franco could threaten 85 runs but a realistic total is probably in the 75-80 range. That is a major bump from the 67 he scored in 2016.
Speaking of BABIP, Franco’s .255 AVG was a major disappointment after hitting .280 in 2015. Much of that difference can be explained by a drop in BABIP from .297 to .271. Franco increased his line drive percentage to 20% which is about league average. It would be nice to see that go up even more which would bump his BABIP up higher. There are a couple of areas of concern with Franco’s BABIP and one is exit velocity. Out of all players in 2016 who had at least 100 batted balls recorded by Statcast, Franco ranked 116th. It’s not bad but it’d be nice if it was a bit higher, particularly for a slugger like Franco. The other area of concern is infield fly balls. As we know IFFBs are automatic outs and Franco’s IFFB rate for his career is 16.4%. The typical league average for IFFB rate is around 11%. His BABIP upside is severely limited with such a high IFFB rate. Franco has to do a better job at getting the barrel on the ball instead of slightly missing under. Given his age (24) there’s still a good chance he can improve in this regard.
Homeruns are the one stat I don’t think anyone is concerned about and I’m no exception. His 25 HR in 2016 is hopefully the new floor. His 14.7% HR/FB suggests that mid-20s HRs are legitimate and there is potential for more, in particular if we factor in that he is only 24 years old. It would be nice to see him increase his average distance on fly balls (289.12 feet which was ranked 104th) but this is nitpicking more than anything else. I don’t foresee 35 HR in 2017 but I expect him to improve on his 25 from a year ago.
Steamer is projecting a line of 27 HR, 76 R, 87 RBI, 2 SB and a .272 AVG in 2017 which all seem attainable. I think there is upside across the board for Franco (besides SB). I’ll give him a projection of 29 HR, 83 R, 95 RBI, 1 SB and a .281 AVG. I think Franco jumps into the top 10 at 3B. A lot of players were burned by Franco last year and that is reflected in many of the top sites’ rankings with Franco being in the 15-25 range. I would take Franco over Jose Ramirez, Alex Bregman, Evan Longoria, Justin Turner (depending on where he ends up) and Matt Carpenter. It’s too early for ADP info but my guess is Franco is going to go behind nearly every one of these guys. Draft Franco on a discount this year and reap the rewards.