2018 is a do or die season for Maikel Franco to prove he should be in the Phillies’ long-term plans
For Maikel Franco, 2018 is vital to his future in Philadelphia as it is a contract year and time is running out for him to prove himself at the big league level. Although Franco has vastly under performed in recent years, the Phillies signed him to a one year deal in January to avoid arbitration.
With what is beginning to become a crowded infield, Franco needs to perform in 2018 to be with the club next year. As one of the more promising Phillies prospects in the last decade, Franco has not panned out as expected thus far for the Phillies.
A career .247 hitter who has proven to lack discipline at the plate, Franco has coupled his performance on the field with a growing number of off-field incidents. He was suspended in mid-January by his winter league team in the Dominican Republic for drinking until 6 a.m. the day before a game. In a season that will ultimately go a long way in determining Franco’s Major League future, he has already taken a step in the wrong direction.
Additionally, the Phillies have also made Franco’s expendability clear, as they were rumored to be aggressively pursuing Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado. Barring an unexpected breakout performance, the Phillies will most likely insert themselves at the forefront of the Manny Machado sweepstakes this offseason, making it that much more imperative that Franco overperform this year.
After a fairly impressive 2015 in which Franco played about half the team’s games due to injury and hit .280 with 14 home runs and an .840 OPS, his numbers have steadily declined. He hit only .230 last year with a .281 OBP and 24 home runs.
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A streaky hitter who feeds off of mediocre pitching and often looks overmatched against top-tier pitchers, Franco’s numbers as of now do not warrant any long term plans. A player who was supposed to be a cornerstone and veteran on a young emerging team, Franco could find himself as an afterthought,
Franco has always seemed to be a temperamental player, playing the game with emotion. Despite his streakiness, he also has had a propensity for hitting in big spots. With that being said, Franco is in the biggest pressure situation in his career.
Working with new hitting coach John Mallee on patience and cutting down his swing, he may be a few tweaks away from reaching his potential.
New, younger management may be what Franco needs to have a breakthrough 2018. He seemed visibly frustrated during losing seasons, and if the team competes, Franco’s performance will only improve.