The surprise and elation of Saturday night’s 4-3, come-from-behind, walk-off win is still resonating in the hearts of most Phillies fans. I mean, after most of Saturday night’s funeral dirge-like game, the end result felt like what we would routinely feel during the halcyon days of 2008, 2009 and 2010.
For virtually the entire game, the offense couldn’t do anything. It was so reminiscent of the moribund bats this team has put together for so much of the last two and a half years.
Then all of a sudden, thanks to some wildness by Kansas City closer Greg Holland and a three-run, two-out, bases-clearning triple from the forgotten Kevin Frandsen, the Phillies had their most surprising walk-off win since Jimmy Rollins’ game-winning double in Game 4 of the ’09 NLCS against the Dodgers.
It was old school, and it felt real good. And there was one man to thank for it.
For the last year, Frandsen has been a revelation for the Phillies. He’s been a journeyman for most of his career, but upon being called to play third base everyday in the middle of last year, the now-31-year-old Frandsen responded by hitting .338/.383/.451 with adequate defense at the hot corner. He even managed a WAR of 1.6 in 55 games in 2012.
Of course, the Phils went out in the offseason and signed Michael Young to play third this year. And, while he’s off to a slow start, it’s way too early to pull the plug on Young, especially when you consider all the LEADERSHIP and things.
So, the honest question is, can Kevin Frandsen play the outfield at all?
Of course, I’m well aware that “Frandsy,” as I would now like to call him, has not been a wildly productive hitter during most his career. He’s a lifetime .269/.324/.367 hitter with just 9 HRs in 838 plate appearances. As Crashburn Alley pointed out last year, Frandsen is likely not the .300 hitter he turned out to be last year.
He also does not have the power you’d like for a corner outfielder. Both Mayberry and Nix have a greater potential to provide the long ball than Frandsen would. And while neither Mayberry or Nix is what you would call a “plus” defender (I mean, they can’t ALL be Michael Youngs, can they?), both at least have experience playing the outfield on a regular basis.
If only they weren’t gaping black holes at the plate.
Frandsen has played eight games in his career in the outfield, five in left field and three in right. The last time he played a game in the outfield in the Majors was in 2010 with the Angels.
Needless to say, Frandsen would not be manning right field for defensive reasons.
Here’s what you can say about Frandsy, though. The guy is on some kind of roll. Almost every time he’s in there, he seems to notch at least one hit. And while he is the team’s best pinch hitter by far (Saturday night’s heroics prove that), perhaps he would provide more value if he got some starts in right field, provided he can actually play the position.
On Sunday, newly acquired Ezequiel Carrera gets the start in right. Frandsen, one night after his clutch, game-winning triple, will be on the bench.
The Phillies know better than anyone what Frandsen can do and what he can’t do. Perhaps he simply can’t play the outfield. If that’s the case, the bench is where he belongs until Young has proven over a longer stretch of time that he can’t hack it at third.
But if there is a chance Fransen can play a little bit of right field, why not get some more use out of his productive bat before the worm turns?
There are only so many hits left in that bat. Let’s get the most out of them while we can.