There’s a lot to like about Maikel Franco as a nice, young power hitter. But he’s on the 2015 Phillies and that’s a pretty big buzzkill. His employer is a big part of what we have to consider with his value, but it’s not the only thing to consider.
As a young power hitter on a struggling team, you’d kind of expect Maikel’s K% to be through the roof. However, he currently checks in at a very reasonable 15.8% in that category. Here’s another good sign for Franco: he can hit the fastball well. Among qualifiers, he ranks inside the top 20 against the fastball on Fangraphs’ “Pitch Value” leaderboard. The top 20 also includes bats like Trout, Goldschmidt, Rizzo, and Frazier, so it is a good place to be.
In terms of splits, there is a big one. It should be noted that although Franco debuted last year, he has still accumulated fewer than 350 total at-bats in the majors. Still, his split is so massive at this point that I think it’s safe to assume that Franco is a reverse-splits guy, even if the gap does close a little as the sample becomes larger. Have a look:
Looking at his spray chart, Citizens Bank Park is the perfect place for Maikel. Its distance to left-center is the second-shortest in MLB, behind only Fenway Park, which has the Green Monster. Here’s where Franco’s home runs have landed:
Fantasy Labs’ trends confirmed what we looked at above; he’s been very reverse-splitty. His four percent upside as a righty power bat against lefties is pretty unbelievable.
In fact, if you were to have taken the lazy DFS player’s approach of just playing the power righty against lefties, you would have been rewarded by a double-digit DraftKings score exactly twice from Franco:
For comparison, he is currently exceeding 10 points against righties on DraftKings 39.5% of the time.
Maikel has been weirdly successful against top pitchers this year. Of his seven 20+ point games against righties this year, three came against Tanaka, Hammel, and Cueto. In other words, pitchers you would never play a Phillies bat against. To further that point, here’s Franco’s Plus/Minus this year when Vegas has projected the Phillies to score 3.7 or fewer runs:
There’s a lot going on with Maikel Franco’s stats and I think that’s actually what makes him a sneaky play in certain spots. Who in their right mind is going to play a developing player on one of the worst offenses in baseball against an ace caliber pitcher in a righty-righty matchup? While I’m definitely not saying Franco is a must play or even a strong play in those instances, he’s not a bad player to take a shot on if you’re looking for low-ownership upside.