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Phillies Roundtable: Will Maikel Franco hit over 30 home runs in 2017? To this point, Franco has played in 248 games and struggled for stretches during that time. Although the increase in strikes seems small, it is easily enough to account for the loss of one walk and the gain of one strike out per week. As you can see, Franco is sending more balls to the opposite field, where no infielder is playing. We might explain this difference by noting that pitches up and away or middle are ripe for driving into CF and RCF. ( Log Out /  His flyball rate has jumped from 32% to 39%, which will help, but probably mean anything long-term. But I think his peripherals complicate that picture, even if they don't falsify it. In 2016, his slugging percentage on sliders dropped to .365 with a .161 isolated power. All peripheral data taken from Brooks Baseball and Texas Leaguers. Speculating, I think he might have slipped into the arm-bar mechanics that sometimes plagued him in the minor leagues. Against a shift in 2017, Franco had a wOBA of .234. It is certainly something that will continue to happen in 2017 and beyond if Franco doesn’t adjust. This is only a preview. ESPN’s Keith Law noted that Franco had showed some major deficiencies in his game while playing in the Eastern League: “Franco is a right-handed hitter who gets his hands very high and deep at the plate, nearly locking his right elbow right before he brings his hands forward, and his above-average bat speed can only go so far in getting the bat head to the zone in time.

Even when Franco posted a 129 wRC+ in 2015, he hit just .194 against curveballs and .259 against sliders. It’s a pretty drastic difference. Against the curveball, he slugged .417 with a .286 isolated power. I just think it is more likely than the bailing-overswinging explanation. Analysis of the Phillies and the Rest of the MLB! I can't say I know. He swings a lot, makes a lot of contact for an aggressive hitter, and hits the ball very hard when he squares it. If I had to guess, I’d say Franco is consciously spraying the ball around the field more. The extra strikes are coming in a few areas of the zone. The gap in terms of summary stats looks large. Just a few pitches per week could produce the effects we are seeing. In his second-year of Major League exposure, Franco saw either a slider or curveball on 31-percent of pitches, according to BrooksBaseball.net. But so far in 2016 Maikel Franco looks more like a placeholder than a prospect. Instead, where Franco is whiffing outside the zone has changed. While he was been better than replacement level in both 2015 and 2016, Franco has struggled to adjust to off-speed pitching. As you might have expected based on the above results, Franco is seeing more hard pitches up but in the zone as well as up and in off the plate. And now, in 2018, he looks as good as he’s ever been. Usually, just pulling the ball less doesn’t lead to this significant change in results. Why the Phillies have already lost the J.T. According to Baseball Info Solutions, which measures pitches in the strike zone based on the called zone and not the rule-book zone as PitchF/x does, Franco is seeing 5-6 more pitches in the zone per week. But it’s worth noting that he has never had a month in his entire career with spray numbers quite like that. To summarize this section, Franco is seeing two significant changes in how pitchers approach him. All of his extra swings are coming on pitches inside the strike zone. Having trouble reading this image? But Franco’s adjustments will open up the opportunity to prove his worth in the major leagues once again. Did he do enough to make the organization think about including him in 2021? As teams start to change around their shifting, the results will likely go back down a bit, but it will still be higher than before his adjustment. First, let’s address the change in power. That’s certainly good company to be around. His line drive rate is basically the same, even up a tick and the same goes for his HR/FB rate. For the most part he has done that, as his field-splits indicate. So far in 2016, the Phillies have won a lot of games without his contributions. There isn't a high likelihood that this distribution will change going into the 2017 season. Overall, before July Franco had a wRC+ of 94. Last season his whiffs were distributed mostly along the bottom exterior of the zone. So far, pitchers are winning this gambit because Franco is whiffing a little more and making slightly worse contact. But it is possible that the way pitchers are approaching him now has him off-balance or guessing wrong more often. To start, let's consider how much Franco's performance differs this year from last. I only mean to suggest that the changes in results are linked to a change in Franco's zone profile, and it is worth taking a closer look at how pitchers are getting these extra strikes.

Well, yes, of course. Obviously, no one has an average week every week and Franco's struggles have been concentrated more in May than in April. Sometimes young hitters can give away at-bats early in their career and Stairs has also noted that he wants Franco to minimize those instances. They are throwing more strikes up and in and more strikes down and away. I binned all launch angles into nine 10-degree ranges, such that all balls in play between -45° and -35° were grouped together, and so on. So far he's failed to take advantage of them. If their approach on 3-0 counts isn’t making the difference, I figured it may have had to do with what the pitchers were throwing them. Franco is hitting just .161 with a .323 slugging percentage against left-handed sliders and .129 with a .226 slugging percentage against curveballs since he has been in the majors. Based on watching his at bats, I am confident part of the explanation is that his mechanics are somehow out of whack. His batting average jumps up to .313 in the 2nd half of 2018, and his OPS is .891. Furthermore, Franco's plate discipline has not changed at all. But, interestingly, if you compare Franco's average week from 2015 to his average week in 2016, the difference is quite small. Adonis Medina might play a big part in 2021. Stairs has said that he would like Franco to remain aggressive but work on taking some walks this season. Furthermore, I'm not sure whether the root of Franco's struggles are his own mechanics or a failure to adjust to how pitchers are pitching him this season. But probably not. There probably is some luck involved, both bad and good.

He didn't pepper that corridor last season either. Maikel Franco has just had consecutive multi-hit games, the second even better than the first. Franco has to oblige them, so to speak. With below average speed and defense, Franco must hit well to be a contributor to a competitive team. Most likely, this change is due to the profiles of the (very few) lefties he's faced this season. He has an OPS+ of 111, much higher than his mark of 78 in 2017. As usual, I have no firm conclusions to offer. Since then, it’s been 138. I should note that I do not intend to defend a complete explanation of Franco's struggles. Second, pitchers have gotten better at locating down and away in the zone against Franco (2-3). I suppose this could be chalked up to lack of chances, then. So far he looks like a key member of a playoff team, and in July and August he has helped carry the offense. When a player like Franco is struggling, it can be useful to investigate whether his opponents have made an adjustment that he hasn't caught up to yet, and to employ the fine-grained data the statistical revolution has put at our fingertips. And now, in 2018, he looks as good as he’s ever been. In 2016 he's walked just once, struck out 6 times, and collected 7 hits with 1 HR and 1 2B. So why not try to locate more curveballs and sliders on the outer portion where he isn’t hitting them over the fence? That approach shows up in his lack of patience, with just one walk in Reading, on June 23, but it will show up soon enough in his batting average, as well.”. With left-handed pitchers, Franco actually gets a curveball or slider on 24-percent of first pitches compared to 35-percent of fastballs. Podcast: YWT: A Philadelphia Flyers Podcast, Sports Talk Philly: Philadelphia Sports News and Rumors. Not only are there large differences from 2017 to 2018, but there appears to be a large shift from the 1st half of 2018 to the 2nd half.

This, naturally, coincides with how he is being pitched. It wouldn’t be as large of an issue if Franco did damage with those off-speed pitches, but he didn’t, especially last season.

And finally, pitchers are locating in the middle of the zone slightly more.

However, we tend to interpret a player's essence as if it were exhausted by their developed athletic skills. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Which is why this season is pretty important for Maikel. In fact, it seems that pitchers have brought their sliders and curves from off the edges of the plate onto the edges of the zone and within, even locating middle-middle more often. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. There is one notable change in batted ball data for Franco that does suggest the change in BABIP is more than luck. Franco also doesn’t seem to be hitting the ball much harder compared to earlier months, with his Hard% and Med% staying pretty stable. ( Log Out /  But if that were the problem, Franco probably wouldn't be whiffing so much on pitches in on his hands. Thus, his lack of multi-hit games this season speaks to his struggles, which have been as obvious as they have been befuddling. As we have employed advanced statistical modeling more and more, we have ironically centered more and more on an Aristotelian conception of players. A number of really good players are in the primes of their careers, but they could be wasted. First, pitchers think they can beat Franco up in the zone. If his hands go too far back and pull into his body, then he is probably creating a straight lead (left) arm, an arm-bar. Check them out below (you might have to hover over the image to get it to alternate between 2015 and 2016): Nevertheless, there is one important change in Franco's zone profile: he's seeing more pitches in the zone. Please enable JavaScript if you would like to comment on this blog. But I doubt that is the case. The big differences you may see are his ISO making a jump up, and his BABIP significantly increasing. He was even better against the slider, slugging .569 with a .310 isolated power.

What has changed? Whether they sign Realmuto in free agency or not, the trade is a bust. So, our perception of how bad he's been recently rightly does not track his average week. In light of that uncertainty, it will be worth tracking whether this trend continues as the season progresses. Roster Expands, Infield Shrinks, Josh Harrison Emerges As part of the parade of non-tenders, the Phillies parted ways with two infielders on Monday: second baseman César Hernández and third baseman Maikel Franco. In the average 2015 week, Franco walked twice, struck out 5 times, and collected 8 hits with 1 HR and 2 2Bs. In order to take the next steps forward, the 24-year-old will need to make adjustments and alter his approach. The difference between the 2015 and 2016 weeks is 1 walk, 1 strike out, and 1 2B. Thanks to the inimitable Matt Winkleman, I know that the Phillies wanted Franco to break his reliance on pulling the ball and use the entire outfield before they would call him up for good. It’s unclear how long that will take, but once it does Franco won’t be able to take advantage so often. He hasn't accomplished this feat since the series in Milwaukee exactly a month ago. In 2018, the 2 numbers are not far apart at all, at .344 and .336 respectively. No and yes. But so far in 2016 Maikel Franco looks more like a placeholder than a prospect.

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