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Maikel Franco went 3 for 4 Monday, and it was his most boring performance in seven days.
That's because during his previous six, a large number of his hits were leaving the ballpark -- four, to be exact -- and not just by a little. His six home runs this season have traveled an average of 405 feet.
Sounds like all's going according to plan for the 22-year-old prospect, who took over as the Phillies' starting third baseman May 15. So ... why the lack of interest in Fantasy?
Maikel Franco, 3B, Phillies (66 percent owned)
The depth at third base probably has something to do with it. Between the arrival of Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo, the revival of Matt Carpenter and Alex Rodriguez and the emergence of Manny Machado, Mike Moustakas, Yasmany Tomas and Jimmy Paredes, an unproven player with a poor walk rate doesn't exactly stand out. Plus, Franco wasn't the most consistent player over his minor-league career. He looked bad in a September callup last year and even worse in spring training this year.
But he excels over other up-and-coming sluggers in one area: his ability to make contact. He has struck out less than one every six at-bats so far compared to more than one every three for Kris Bryant. Which isn't to say he's as good as Bryant, but even as hot as he is now, he has only a .268 BABIP. His batting average may actually improve from here.
He made plenty of contact in the minors as well, so it's not just a product of sample size. Combine it with the power he has shown, and I could see him being must-start by season's end.
Jesse Hahn, SP, Athletics (55 percent owned)
Quality starting pitching goes only about 60 deep right now -- not enough to satisfy 12 mixed-league rosters -- so if I said you could get a 2.36 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 1.8 walks per nine innings off the waiver wire right now, I have a pretty good idea what your response would be.
Where can I find some numbers like that?
You wish you had Jesse Hahn. Those are the numbers from his last five starts, but his season-long numbers -- a 3.51 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 1.9 walks per nine innings -- aren't so far off. The reason they've gone overlooked is because they weren't yielding any quality starts at first. The Athletics kept pulling him between 85 and 90 pitches, before he had gone the required six innings. But they've changed their approach over his last five starts, during which he has averaged 106 pitches and nearly seven innings, and even that third time through the lineup, hitters aren't catching on to him.
So what we have here is a pitcher who throws strikes, keeps the ball in the ballpark with a high groundball rate and isn't a complete lackey in strikeouts. Maybe quality starting pitching goes 61 deep.
Carson Smith, RP, Mariners (33 percent owned)
I may have buried the lede by putting Smith this low, but in my defense, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon has done his best to bury our expectations, insisting for weeks that he wouldn't shy away from Fernando Rodney as his closer even as the 38-year-old seemingly allowed an earned run or two every time out and the Mariners seemingly had a viable replacement in Smith. Rodney was "proven," after all, and Smith couldn't be trusted to pitch more than two days in a row since he hadn't developed his "man muscles."
McClendon's word, not mine.
So then of course when the earned run or two Rodney allowed Friday resulted in a loss, McClendon decided to remove him from the role, which immediately puts Smith's 1.08 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings into focus. Elite numbers, for sure.
Here's the catch: McClendon hasn't named Smith the replacement for Rodney or suggested that Rodney's demotion is permanent. Obviously, if you need saves, Smith is a great candidate for them, but then again, so is the Marlins' A.J. Ramos, who is still owned in just 59 percent of leagues.