Philadelphia Phillies: Maikel Franco has finally found his spot

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Initially miscast as the Philadelphia Phillies’ next star, Maikel Franco has finally found his spot at the bottom of the order.

What a difference a year can make.

After burning out under first-year skipper Gabe Kapler in incredible fashion in route to an 80-82 playoff-less push, the Philadelphia Phillies look like legitimate world beaters and World Series contenders.

I guess that’s what adding a top-2 talent (and a whole lot more) to an ascending club will do for ya.

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But really, Byrce Harper‘s impact on the Phillies has stretched much further than his 465-yard bomb in the seventh inning of the team’s second straight win of the season.

With one of the more potent offensive assaults in the league, every returning player’s job has become just a little easier; specifically Maikel Franco‘s.

After initially being cast as the Phillies’ next great star, a ‘face of the franchise’-type player, Franco has dropped down Kapler’s batting order all the way to the eight spot, typically reserved for a weaker hitter.

And he’s played lights out.

Maintaining his solid defensive efforts on third base, Franco’s bat has been on fire; leading the team in home runs (2), RBIs (6), batting average (.500), and on-base percentage (.625) in only six at-bats.

Just for context, the best eight-hole hitter in MLB last season only hit 22 homes runs (Del Crandall), and through two games (1.23 percent of the season) Franco is already almost 10 percent of the way there.

Who knows, if this streak continues, Franco could set a record for the most home runs hit in a single season in baseball history at 162 (I kid, I kid).

With Franco in the eight spot, Kapler has expertly crafted a mirror image of his 1-4 from 5-8, giving opposing pitchers one batter to recoup as opposed to the typical bottom of the order lull that most teams field.

And really, things are only going to get better.

Because eight different players have to be accounted for night after night, opposing pitchers are going to have to throw more balls, walk more batters, and get to the bench earlier than a skipper would probably like. With 20, 30, or even 40 pitches potentially already thrown before Franco even arrives at the plate for his first at-bat, things are going to be a lot easier for the 26-year-old slugger now in his fifth professional season.

While providing power at the bottom of the lineup is hardly what fans initially expected when they (potentially to eagerly) anointed Franco the Phillies’ next homegrown star, the additions of Harper, J.T. Realmuto, and Andrew McCutchen have slid the 26-year-old third baseman into a supporting role; one that perfectly fits his skillset and should allow him to shine in a lower pressure situation.

Next. Phillies should feel confident in Bryce Harper bouncing back in second game. dark

Buckle up Philadelphia Phillies fans; this season is going to be an incredible ride.