Phillies: Maikel Franco’s hot start proves to be fleeting

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 11: Maikel Franco #7 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on May 11, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 11: Maikel Franco #7 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on May 11, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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After starting the year on fire, Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco has not been the same offensive presence at the bottom of the order.

Maikel Franco couldn’t have started the season much hotter than he did. He hit three home runs in the Phillies‘ first four games and drove in 10 runs in the first four games.

Franco continued to succeed through the first few weeks of the season, posting a .259/.385/.630 line with 11 walks and six strikeouts in 65 plate appearances over 16 games through April 16. He was dubbed “the best No. 8 hitter in baseball,” and Franco more than backed it up.

However, that early success has quickly faded away. As of Thursday, he has a .208/.244/.300 line with just one home run and 11 RBI in 32 games. Among hitters with 100 or more plate appearances since April 17, only one has a wore wRC+ than Franco’s of 39.

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Franco was enough of a threat early on the season that opposing pitchers opted to avoid facing him, hoping for an easy out from a pitcher instead. That is no longer the case. After being intentionally walked 11 times in his first 16 games, he has been intentionally walked just twice since then. Pitchers no longer view Franco as a threat; so much for being the best eighth hitter in baseball.

After Franco had his best season since his rookie year last season, there was enough optimism to keep him around despite a hectic offseason. That seemed to pay off after the first few weeks of the year, but Franco’s drop off has led us back to the drawing board.

Scott Kingery could be an option to replace Franco at third base, but he has been too busy filling in for the slumping Odubel Herrera. Sean Rodriguez and Phil Gosselin are able to fill in, but they aren’t adequate replacements.

If Franco’s struggles continue, Philadelphia could wind up acquiring some help at third base at the trade deadline. Anthony Rendon could be on the move, and he may be a fit, but there’s no guarantee he even reaches the trade block.

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After being a key cog of a thriving lineup earlier this year, Franco has contributed little to the team since then. Once again, we are left to wonder if he can really help this team reach the playoffs.