Expectations were high for the slugger entering 2016. Maikel Franco had a solid first half, hitting .269 with 18 homers, but he slumped after the All-Star break. Things were especially bad for Franco in August, when he hit just .224 with three homers. Franco had a tougher time against right-handed pitchers last season. While he did hit 17 of his homers against righties, he also managed just a .698 OPS against same-handed pitching as opposed to the .844 OPS he had against righties in 2015. Franco was also a bit unlucky last season, as he saw his BABIP drop from .298 in 2015 to .273. Although he did see a dip in his walk rate and a tick up in his strikeout rate, neither change is all that alarming at this stage. It is important to remember Franco is just 24 years old, and as he continues to refine his game, he should deliver improved numbers. Franco projects as the Phillies' cleanup hitter this season.
Franco said he spent the offseason focusing on his conditioning, Ryan Lawrence of the Philly Voice reports. "I've lost five to seven pounds right now," Franco said. "I feel better. I feel great. My body is in good shape right now." Every year before spring training there are stories of athletes claiming they are in the best shape of their life. Improved conditioning does not necessarily equate to improved performance on the field, but it is good to see Franco, who is entering his third season, focused on making improvements to try to become a better player. Franco had a solid first half last season, hitting .269 with 18 homers, but he slumped after the All-Star break and finished with an OPS more than 100 points lower than in 2015. The Phillies have added some additional offensive firepower this offseason in Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick, which will help take some pressure off of Franco. He has the talent to reach 30 homers this season if he puts everything together.
Franco went 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI in a 10-8 win over the Mets on Saturday. Franco has now homered in three straight games after not hitting one for more than a month. He's hitting .310/.355/.507 with the three homers and 15 RBI during the month of September.
Franco went 2-for-5 with his 23rd homer and four RBI in Thursday's 11-inning loss to the Mets. He gave the Phillies a chance to win twice -- first seizing the lead with his three-run homer in the eighth, then forcing an insurance run home with a walk in the 11th -- only to see the bullpen gave both leads back. Franco's first full season in the majors has fallen short of expectations, as his .250/.301/.422 line is down across the board from last year's impressive debut. The Phillies and fantasy owners have still gotten that strong homer total and 83 RBI out of the 24-year-old, but with the way he pulverized in the minors, it's hard not to feel like bigger things are on the horizon.
Franco is out of the lineup Friday against Miami. Franco went 4-for-18 (.222) with a double in his first four game back from a thumb injury this week. He'll get a chance to rest Friday, with Andres Blanco taking his place in the lineup. Franco may see some more rest days to keep his thumb healthy as the season winds down.
Franco (thumb) is in the lineup for Monday's game against the Pirates. Franco's thumb injury has prevented him from starting since Tuesday, but he pinch hit the last two days, and will be back in the lineup Monday as he indicated over the weekend. Franco will play third and hit third Monday against Pirates starter Gerrit Cole.