Five years ago, then-Phillies infielder Maikel Franco shined against the Yankees
It was June 22, 2015. The Philadelphia Phillies were entering their three-game road series against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium — just their second at the venue since their 2009 World Series defeat six years prior.
The Phillies had lost five straight series and a 24-47 record, 23 games under .500.
But, they would soon receive a spark from rookie third baseman Maikel Franco, who, in the first two games of the series, helped in a significant way offensively to lead the Phillies to 11-8 and 11-6 victories.
Combined, across 10 plate appearances, Franco slashed .750/.800/2.000 with five runs scored, two singles, one double, three home runs, 10 RBI, one walk and just one strikeout.
In the first game, Franco went 4-for-5 with a pair of home runs, one each off of starting pitcher Michael Pineda — just three batters into the game in the top of the first, setting the stage for the high-scoring contest — and reliever Chris Capuano — a two-run shot in the top of the sixth, extending the Phillies’ lead from three runs to five.
The following day, Franco took southpaw starting pitcher CC Sabathia deep in the top of the fourth, with two runners on and two outs, to break up a 3-3 tie. His other two RBI came in the top of the ninth, lacing a two-RBI double opposite Dellin Betances to break a 6-6 tie game. While the first game of the series Franco hit .800 with multiple home runs, this late-inning, game-changing hit was the most impactful on the outcome of the game.
The Phillies missed out on the series sweep, dropping the finale 10-2. Franco went 0-for-4 with one strikeout. The third baseman was truly the team’s most valuable player in the interleague set. And, perhaps, that is what prolonged his career in red pinstripes through the 2019 season.
The Phillies had always hoped the power Franco displayed in the June 2015 Yankees series someday would return on a more consistent basis.
But it never did.
Franco’s five RBI in each game was only exceeded once more thus far in his career — six RBI in a 20-1 convincing home victory against the Miami Marlins on April 7, 2018.
Last season, his sixth with the team, Franco slashed just .234/.297/.409 with 17 home runs and 56 RBI across 123 games. The Phillies were unsuccessful in finding a trade partner this past offseason and later non-tendered him.
The Dominican Republic native ended up signing a one-year, $2.95 million contract with the Kansas City Royals in late December. In spring training, Franco slashed .267/.290/.400 as a Royal with eight hits — including one double and one home run — four RBI, one walk and eight strikeouts spanning 11 games and 31 plate appearances.