Phillies 2018 season report card: Third baseman Maikel Franco

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23 : Maikel Franco #7 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on during a pitching change against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23 : Maikel Franco #7 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on during a pitching change against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Maikel Franco had his ups and downs in 2018, improving overall compared to the last year. Was it enough for the Phillies to keep him?

This season was an interesting one for Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco. It saw many ups and downs, hot streaks and cold streaks, and a handful of injuries, some of which have kept him out for a majority of September. He finished his season with a slash line of .270/.314/.467 with 22 home runs and 68 runs batted in over 131 games.

Franco had his fair share of flashy plays in the field, a statement first career walk-off home run when the team was still in contention and a batter’s eye that seemed to be unstoppable from the end of June until the beginning of August, right when things started to go awry.

Maikel’s roughest months at the plate came in May and August, months that saw him fetch an on-base percentage of just .289 and .284, respectively. With those flashy plays in the field came a fair share of head-scratchers that have cost the Phillies runs in key games.

Overall, this season feels like an improvement for Franco, but the numbers would suggest otherwise.

More from Phillies News


This season saw a drastic improvement from Franco at the plate. He improved his OPS by 90 points (from .690 to .780), had more home runs and RBI per at-bat, and had 62 strikeouts, which was fewest among all starters, in 131 games.

As mentioned before, the best moments of the season for Franco came during the very middle of the season.

Franco reached base safely in 22 games in the break-shortened month of July, racking up an OPS of .971, nearly matching MVP candidate Mookie Betts and his July OPS of .973.

Not to mention, Franco’s ability to hit for extra bases relative to the rest of the team this season also stands out. His .467 slugging percentage was a mile and a half better of the team’s dismal .393 SLG (as of game 161), and it was good for second out of the qualifying starters, trailing only Rhys Hoskins.

More from That Balls Outta Here

Overall, at the plate, Franco made some serious, much-needed improvements this season, and it showed throughout a large majority of the 2018 campaign.


Franco was very streaky this season. With the highs of June and July, the cold streaks that lasted throughout much of May and August stand out. From the eye test, it really felt like he couldn’t reach base no matter what he tried.

While the batting took one step forward, the fielding took one step back. Part of that could be attributed to the shifting and defensive alignment of manager Gabe Kapler, shifts do not account for his team-leading 15 errors, along with a team-worst (among qualifiers) .949 Fielding percentage. These factors all combine to produce -12 defensive runs saved (DRS).

The eye test turns out to be a great analysis for a player like Franco, because fans can see that he makes many great plays and has great at bats, but then either makes a bone-headed play where he should have held onto the ball or grounds into a double play in a huge situation. With that being said, his WAR changed from -0.2 last season to 0.2 this season.

C+. . C+. Philadelphia Phillies. MAIKEL FRANCO

Will he be back?

Franco’s situation is interesting. He has three years of team-control and arbitration before he is eligible to be a free-agent. All signs would likely point to him being back next year. Until Carlos Santana started playing games at third this September.

In a limited sample size (110 innings), Santana has a DRS of +1 and is hitting .255/.354/.442 in September with 18 BB, 12 strikeouts, and 14 runs scored. That type of consistency would add more value than the stat line that Franco rolls out every day and could possibly add even more value if Rhys Hoskins were to play at first base rather than in the outfield, where his defense was poor all year.

Next. How do Phillies build on 14-win improvement?. dark

In all, Franco’s season performance has been exactly replacement level. He has improved at the plate, but his fielding took all of that value away. I’d venture to say that he will be back this season, but since Hoskins and Aaron Nola are the only untouchables, I would not be surprised if he is traded.