Maikel Franco has not quite lived up to the Phillies expectations. Carlos Santana might be the influence he needs to turn it around.
When a young team that is rebuilding or in the playoff hunt brings in a veteran free agent you often hear this lime; they bring the veteran experience. All young teams and players lack the experience and knowledge that all veteran have gained throughout their careers. And the Phillies are no exception.
Maikel Franco enters the 2018 season with a lot to prove. His job could be on the line with the Phillies showing extreme interest in third baseman Manny Machado and Scott Kingery will make playing time in the infield hard to come by. Franco has been falling statistically each year since debut, and all fans pray this will be the year he turns it around.
He might just have to guide to help him do it. Carlos Santana has been the biggest move of the offseason so far for the Phillies when they signed the slugging first basemen to a three-year $60 million deal. Many have discussed how he and Rhys Hoskins would fit in the middle of the lineup, but the more intriguing combo might be Santana and Franco.
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During the first week of the Spring Training Santana has appeared to have taken Franco under his wing. Santana reportedly said “I told the team I wanted Maikel Franco right next to me” and “we’re gonna work together every single day”. Matt Gelb of the Athletic described the duo as inseparable throughout the first week of training.
This isn’t just a February-March thing either.
Santana has requested for Franco’s locker to be next to his for the season. Santana’s main focus will be to pass on his plate discipline to the often free swinging Franco. This would be a major improvement to Franco’s game as it would take his hitting to a higher level.
Franco has shared some of his thoughts on the current predicament via MLB.com.
“I’m a young guy and I need to learn about hitting. I’m just trying to get information from him. I’m trying to get close to him. Carlos selects a lot of good pitches. He’s got a good idea [at the plate]. I’m trying to find out everything that I can do. I know he is going to help me a lot .”
Santana is definitely one of the best when it comes to plate discipline.
Santana has had an on base percentage higher than .350 each year of his career, and draws an average of 105 walks a year while also supplying pop a little bit of base stealing. He has hit .259 in each of the past two seasons while totaling 57 home runs and 166 RBI.
Everyone knew adding Santana would benefit the lineup. But his signing could possibly end up adding two new threats to the team. The Phillies could use a big season from the third baseman just as much as Franco could. It would increase the teams wild card hopes and continue to just be a starting pitcher (cough Jake Arrieta cough) away from contention.