Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco finally, really done?
Maikel Franco has fallen out of the Phillies everyday lineup. Is this finally the end of his time in Philadelphia with the team?
Maikel Franco started this year as one of the key cogs in a thriving Phillies lineup, getting dubbed “the best No. 8 hitter in baseball.” After that hot start, he has fallen hard and now finds himself out of the starting lineup entirely.
Out of 20 games in June, Franco has started just nine of them. In this time, the team has turned to Scott Kingery, Sean Rodriguez, and Brad Miller as better options to start at the hot corner than Franco. The fact that Franco finds himself behind Rodriguez and Miller should be an indictment on its own.
Even when a prime opportunity arises for Franco to pinch-hit, he gets overlooked for other players. Saturday’s loss to the Marlins provided an excellent example of this when Andrew Knapp got the call to pinch-hit for the pitcher over Franco despite a career 1.105 OPS against Wei-Yin Chen. Considering how much the team looks at matchups to determine pinch-hitters, it shows just how far out of favor Franco has fallen.
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With Franco now on the outside looking in, is this finally the end of his time in Philadelphia? We have said this plenty of times before, yet he always finds a way back into the picture. The first instance came after a then-career-worst season in 2017. Despite that, he remained the starter in 2018 and turned things back around.
Now Franco is performing even worse than he did in 2017. In 68 games, he has a .205/.275/.371 line, ranking third-worst among qualified hitters with a 54 wRC+ as of Sunday. Back then, the club could afford to let him work through his issues; now they can’t let him be a free out at the bottom of the lineup.
This may be Franco’s final season serving in any role with the Phillies. The team gambled on him as the starting third baseman, opting not to go after Mike Moustakas during free agency. That decision is now coming back to haunt them with no reliable option at third base. Next offseason, the team should make the third base position a high priority.
Without any defensive versatility, Franco could soon be off the team entirely if they add someone at the position during the offseason or even sooner.