Tag: Ben Francisco

Philadelphia Phillies: Why Ben Francisco Will Be Valuable in Postseason Drive

Last night, it took 8.2 innings for the Phillies to finally defeat the Athletics. Ben Francisco provided the chopper that brought home Shane Victorino for the 1-0 victory.

Francisco has been the target of a lot of criticism this season. While some of it has been merited, a lot of it has not been. This article is not written purely in response to that walk-off single last night, but a clutch base hit illustrates the value that Francisco adds to this team.

The argument has been made that he is not necessarily a starting outfielder and is better suited for the traditional fourth outfielder role, but that is not what this is about either.

From looking at his statistics through this season so far, I think that Francisco is going to be a valuable member of the Phillies down the stretch because he knows how to come through in big situations.

1. When he comes in as a pinch-hitter, his average is .364 with an on-base percentage of .462.

2. When there are men on base, he is batting .293 with an on-base percentage of .392.

3. When there are runners in scoring position with two outs, he is hitting .304.

While the argument may be made that these statistics are so situation-specific that they do not indicate very much about how well he is playing this season, that explains my point. He may be having a down year, but that fact alone does not preclude him from being able to perform especially well in certain situations as shown by what he has done so far this season.

If the Phillies trade for a new outfielder to add some power against left-handers, I hope that is not at the expense of Francisco being sent away or demoted. I think that even if he is on the bench, his record of pressure situation success will benefit the Phillies on their postseason drive.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Why It’s Time for Ben Francisco to Leave

At the beginning of the 2011 season, the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans had high hopes that RF Ben Francisco could fill the void after Jayson Werth signed a mega-contract with the division rival Washington Nationals.

Unfortunately, Francisco has done everything but impress so far this season. He currently is batting .218 with six home runs and 25 RBI. He has only 12 extra-base-hits in 170 AB and has 30 strikeouts. The only good part about his game is that he sees a lot of pitches and has a decent OBP at .343.

I almost can’t say enough bad things about Francisco. He plays terrible defense, has a poor arm, and has been caught stealing more times that he has been safe. Sometimes he just looks lost out there—he is like the Forrest Gump of baseball, just without all that natural talent.

So why is even on the Phillies roster?

Honestly I have no idea, especially when John Mayberry Jr. does everything better than Francisco—Mayberry hits better, plays better defense, has an arm that’s 10-times better, and has more speed.

It just doesn’t make sense.

Since he has lost his starting job to rookie Domonic Brown, what use do the Phillies even have for Francisco?

Let’s see… We could use him as a pinch hitter, but he can’t hit… We could use him as a pinch runner, but he can’t run… Maybe we can have him come in to play defense…

Wait—he stinks at that too.

The answer is: release him.

He is making only $1.175 million, so he is not a huge financial obligation. Besides, there has to be someone out there who can fill his void. If not John Mayberry Jr., then the Phillies could bring up another Triple-A outfielder, like Delwynn Young. 

At this point, almost anyone could produce more than Francisco. He is a waste of a roster spot and simply isn’t playing at a major league level. 

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Fab Four Who? Why the Phillies Have Shown Us Not to Doubt Their Lineup

“They can’t hit.” “They’re too old.” “They’re all inured.” These phrases were all uttered toward the Phillies lineup leading up to the 2011 MLB season. Now, eleven games into the season, the Phillies have been proving these critics wrong. The Phillies are 8-3 and they have scored 66 runs. Also, they have hit a remarkable .318 AVG, and have a tremendous .386 OBP which leads the MLB. They are third in the MLB and second in the NL with 64 RBI.   

So, what have the Phillies been doing so well to silence these critics? Here are the reasons why the offense has gotten production like this out of a lineup that was expected to be mediocre at best.

1) Stars Producing

With Utley injured, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins knew they had to step up. They did just that. Howard has hit .333 with three HR and 13 RBI. Howard is striking out less than his usual total, with nine strikeouts through eleven games, and has an unbelievable .643 SLG. Jimmy Rollins does not have an RBI yet this season, but he is seeing the ball great. He has 15 hits, hitting .326. Not to mention, Jimmy has stolen a team high three bases. These two veterans need to continue there great play in order for the Phillies to succeed this season.

2) Ben Francisco

Jayson Werth who? Ben Francisco has been one of the, if not the, best Phillies hitter this season so far. Ben is hitting .279 with 2 HR and 8 RBI. Not to mention he had two potential home run balls pulled back by the wind at Citizens Bank Park. He has also produced four BB, and a .354 OBP. These numbers are coming from a lifetime bench player, who has not had more than 15 HR in his career. Look to see Ben francisco have a huge season for the Phillies.

3) Production in place of Chase Utley

Whether is has been Wilson Valdez or Michael Martinez, the Phillies have gotten great production out of their fill-in second basemen, in the field and at the plate. Valdez is hitting .353 with five RBI, and Martinez even though he only has nine AB had been described as the most upbeat player on the team by Charlie Manuel. Valdez has been great in the field, turning four double pays and not committing one error this season.

4) Bench Production

John Mayberry Jr. and Pete Orr are two names nobody outside the Phillies fan base would even recognize. However, Mayberry leads the MLB in pinch hits with four, and Orr is right behind with three. Mayberry had a walk-off RBI single in the first game of the season, and Pete Orr has appeared in four games this season. Also, Brian Schneider is a very reliable backup catcher. He has one HR and two RBI this season in two games. 

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Philadelphia Phillies: Why Ben Francisco Will Be the 2011 Team MVP

With the conclusion of the first weekend, Phillies fans have already learned a lot about the upcoming season. Already the rotation was known to be a sure thing. 19 innings were pitched by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt while only allowing a collective 14 hits, six runs, one walk and 23 strikeouts.

Also, production needed from fill-in players on this team was taken away from this weekend. The production of Wilson Valdez, who provided two RBI this weekend in the absence of Chase Utley, will be vital to this team. John Mayberry, who contributed the game-winning RBI single in the first game this season, will be a very important bench player to this team.

But the most important player on the Phillies this season is not Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino or any other star on this team. It is the quiet right fielder who has been a bench player his whole career, Ben Francisco. Francisco is filling some big shoes, of Jayson Werth who was lost to the Nationals in free agency this offseason. In the first three games this season, Francisco had 13 AB, hitting .462 with 1 HR and 4 RBI.

In spring training, Francisco blew away Charlie Manuel and the rest of the Phillies organization with a huge performance. He hit .361 with 5 HR and 14 RBI this spring, and had an astounding .667 slugging percentage.  In order to be successful, the Phillies need to give their star pitchers run support. Francisco can contribute valuable RBI and HR hitting behind Ryan Howard against lefties. 

With this being said, Ben Francisco has a very good chance of putting up great numbers this season. Many experts have predicted a 20-25 HR and 75-80 RBI season for Francisco. He has decent speed, good power, and is good in the field. But most importantly Francisco has the right attitude needed for a Philadelphia sports player. The Phantastic phour, Fab Four, or whatever the Phillies starters are called have gotten all the media attention along with Howard, Rollins and Utley. But it is Ben Francisco who will have the biggest impact on the team this season.

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2011 MLB: Philadelphia Phillies Daily Fun Fact for Opening Day

The Philadelphia Phillies opened the season today with an awe-inspiring bottom of the ninth, come-from-behind 5-4 victory, after a less than inspiring first eight innings of the season against their old nemesis, the Houston Astros.  

To make matters worse, the Phillies got shut down for most of the day, which was lost to one of their own: former Phillies pitcher Brett Myers.

Add to that the fact that former Phillie Michael Bourn drove in two runs and scored another, and it was looking like a down day for the old hometown teamuntil the Phillies reminded us all that this is still a pretty awesome team.

And who was that driving in the tying run?  Mr. Double Play himself: Wilson Valdez.

Not that this all means anything, because it is only opening day, and, as we have all learned, anything can happen during the course of a baseball season (just ask Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes).

Nevertheless, after the special sting that comes from debuting your once-in-a-lifetime rotation and getting shut down by a guy you got rid of to make way for that rotation, it was certainly a nice way to end the first game of the year.  Though, know this:

If the Phillies are going to play like this all season, we will all be dead by August!

Putting the exciting victory aside for a moment, something interesting and incredibly novel happened during today’s game, back when the Phillies looked like the 1962 Mets.

On his way to shutting down the Phils for most of the day, Brett Myers pitched 7.0 innings, allowing three hits, three walks, and one earned run.  But Myers did not strike out a single batter.

And so here is today’s Philadelphia Phillies Daily Fun Fact:

In all of 2010, only 10 pitchers managed to pitch seven or more innings without striking out a single batter.

Of those ten pitchers, only one managed to pitch seven or more innings without striking out a single batter and while allowing only a single run.

It was Johnny Cueto, of the Cincinnati Reds, on June 28, 2010.

And it happened against the Phillies.

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Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Keys to Phillies Winning a 5th Straight NL East Title

Opening Day is less than a week away.

Pretty soon, the Philadelphia Phillies will be on their way back to frigid PA and will start April 1st their quest for a fifth straight NL East Title.

Phillies fans are hoping for even more…perhaps a second World Series title in four years.

The Phillies, even though they are favorites to win the division, have some pretty big concerns heading into the season.

Injuries, age and recent play have put some question marks around the Phillies team.

If the Phils want to secure a fifth straight title and make it back to the World Series, these will be the five keys to them doing so.

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Philadephia Phillies Rookie Domonic Brown Dealt a Bad Hand: What’s Next?

For those of us who we’re hoping for a healthy spring for the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., we may be in for a rough month.

Future left handed specialist Antonio Bastardo has been moving slowly and gingerly through the month of March and Chase Utley is nursing patellar tendinitis in his right knee, which was recently treated with a cortisone injection.

The Phillies may have received their biggest blow of the spring on Saturday, however, when rookie right fielder Domonic Brown learned his hand was broken.

It’s been a rough spring for Brown, and at a glance on Saturday, things seemed to be improving. After going 0-for-15 during the first few weeks of spring training, Brown finally broke loose of that goose egg, hitting a solid single up the middle.

Once he got to first base however, it wasn’t hard to tell he was in a good deal of pain.

During the previous at bat, Brown fouled off a pitch by Pittsburgh Pirates‘ starter Paul Maholm and the ball caught him square on his hand. He shook it off, not thinking much of it at the time and stepped back in, finishing the at bat and collecting his first base hit of the spring.

For that reason alone, it was surprising to see Brown out of the game for the next half inning, when John Mayberry Jr. took his place. A few moments later, Brown was seen jogging toward the clubhouse with Phillies head trainer Scott Sheridan right behind him.

After the game, x-rays revealed Brown had a pretty nasty break. He had fractured the hook of the hamate bone in his right hand. Believe it or not, the injury is quite common in sports—especially those that required the hands gripping something, like a baseball bat or a golf club. It is also called the “wrist bone” and is located below the palm and before the arm begins.

Though he’ll likely need surgery, Brown is in good hands—no pun intended.

He’ll fly to Philadelphia to see hand specialist Randall Culp—the same man who corrected Utley’s torn thumb ligament last season. The recovery for the hand surgery is likely going to be four to six weeks, which answers the first “what’s next” question for Brown.

With just 16 at-bats and a base hit to his name this spring, he certainly will not be the Phillies’ right fielder when Opening Day rolls around on April 1.

Charlie Manuel made good on his word when he said Brown would see plenty of playing time and the young outfielder was quite the disappointment.

On the other hand, his main competition, Ben Francisco, has impressed this spring, making his claim to be the permanent right fielder by posting an early slash line of .421/.476/.947, with two home runs.

The way the two have been hitting, it’s hard to imagine Brown was going to beat out Francisco to win the job anyway. His injury just makes the decision that much easier on the likes of Manuel and Ruben Amaro Jr.

When asked about that right field job, Amaro told the media, “Nobody has won our right field job, but Ben has done very, very well for us.”

With Brown out of the picture, things are beginning to fall into place. Unless something unfortunate happens, Francisco will be the everyday right fielder and John Mayberry Jr. or another outfielder will take his place on the bench.

Where does that leave Brown?

“He wasn’t in a rhythm,” Amaro said. To be frank, he hasn’t been in a rhythm for a long while—since his call-up at the end of July last season. Amaro would then go on to lay the groundwork for the outfielder’s future, confirming everyone’s suspicion that Brown would return to AAA once healthy. Where does he go after that?

At first glance, two scenarios are developing for Brown and one depends on the success of Francisco as an everyday player.

As a right-handed hitter, Francisco brings a certain level of balance to the Phillies lineup. If he can play at an acceptable level throughout the season, there is no reason to make him split time with Brown. It doesn’t do either of them any good, developmentally. However, that situation is indeed present.

If Francisco begins to struggle and Brown finds his stride in AAA, the Phillies could make a move to promote Brown and insert him into the everyday lineup, with Francisco returning to his role on the bench. The two could platoon in right field as well, which was the plan before spring training began.

On the other hand, maybe developing Brown for another full season isn’t the worst idea. After the season, the Phillies are going to need another corner outfielder when Raul Ibanez’s contract expires. Of course, this scenario would see Francisco develop into an everyday right fielder, giving the Phillies depth on the corners moving forward.

Francisco, who could play both right and left field, would slide over to claim Ibanez’s spot and Brown would take over the right field job. In a perfect world, the Phillies would have successfully developed two major league-capable corner outfielders in this scenario.

Without having to spend money on the outfield, the team could address other areas of concern, namely shortstop, the bullpen and the starting rotation.

So when we question what’s next for Domonic Brown, the answer is pretty simple. He’ll play for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs for at the very least a couple of months this year, and re-join the Phillies full-time by 2012.

Let’s face the facts for a moment—this is an aging team that will need Brown for some life in the next couple of years.

Now may not be his time, but it’s too soon to write him off.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Why Domonic’s Brown’s Injury Is a Blessing in Disguise

The Philadelphia Phillies’ prospect Domonic Brown recorded his first hit of spring training today against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The at-bat was bittersweet, however, because Brown fractured his wrist, an injury that will most likely require surgery.

Brown saw some action up in the Majors in the second half of the 2010 season, batting .210 and recording three doubles and two home runs in only 62 at-bats.  Brown was in a fight for the right field spot in the Phillies’ outfield this season, and it looked as though Brown would platoon with Ben Francisco, but with the injury Francisco should win the position outright.

With this recent injury, the Phillies and their fans are all disappointed, since Brown is the No. 4 prospect in the MLB according to ESPN.

Although many people believe it a tragedy, Brown’s injury is actually a good thing for the Phillies.

Brown is an underdeveloped player at this point, and he is not ready to come into the MLB.  Brown struggles mightily against left-handed pitchers, hitting a pathetic .077 against them.  Brown was absolutely terrible against lefties, and he did not have enough time to work against them last season.

If Brown and Francisco were to platoon as planned, Brown would have only batted against right-handed pitching.  While he may have done better against those righties, he would not have had any time to develop against lefties, and there would be no way that he could develop further like that. 

If that situation were to occur, Brown would not be able to become a better player.  Brown would have been talent wasted.

Because Brown broke his wrist, he will have to recover, and then rehab in the minor leagues.

The Phillies will not rush Brown back, and he will learn to hit those pesky lefties while in the minors again.  When Brown can hit both types of pitchers, he will have the potential to become a great player…the type of player everyone expects him to be.

In the meantime, Ben Francisco will take over the position.

Francisco has the potential to bat .275 and hit 20 home runs if he plays every game of a season, and he is a good right-handed bat…something that the Phillies are missing since Jayson Werth left.

Overall, from Domonic Brown’s injury, Brown will get more time to develop, Francisco will get the chance to be an everyday starter, and the Phillies will gain a powerful right-handed hitter.

While Brown’s injury seemed devastating, it helps the Phillies more than it hurts them.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Ben Francisco Is the Answer to Replacing Jayson Werth

Former Philadelphia Phillie Jayson Werth signed with his former division rival Washington Nationals for $126 MM over seven years, which allowed Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. to offer a contract to the much-coveted Cliff Lee.

In a deal that shocked baseball where Lee left millions of dollars on the table, he decided to return to a team where he enjoyed the city, the team and the fans.

Lee decided that his comfort and the chance for history and a championship was more important than the money the Yankees offered him.

As a Phillies fan, I am extremely excited to have Lee back on the team, especially since I spent 12 months criticizing Amaro for getting rid of Lee to begin with. Werth, unlike Lee, decided that he would rather have the money than an immediate chance to become a world champion yet again.

With Werth missing from the roster, there has been a great deal of discussion as to who will replace him. Werth was the second best hitter on the Phillies who ranked towards the top in home runs and RBI. He was also a smart baserunner and a great defensive player.

Werth was certainly a productive player and helped the Phillies earn their four consecutive NL East championships and the 2008 World Series victory. Werth was a key asset to these accomplishments, but he did not solely earn these accomplishments, as baseball is, after all, a team sport.

Werth will be 39 years old at the end of his contract. He may still be a productive player, but it is unlikely that he will be as productive in the latter years of the contract as he has been in the past few years, especially if he is injured again or as he becomes slower with age.

With Werth gone, however, who will be his replacement in right field and as a right-handed hitter? Discussions have surfaced about a platoon in right field consisting of Ben Francisco and Ross Gload or Domonic Brown. However, I think that splitting right field with either Gload or Brown leaves much to be desired since they both are left-handed hitters, and Brown also had very disappointing numbers at the plate in the winter league.

Why not just use Ben Francisco as the starter? He may not have as much power as Jayson Werth, but he can produce offensive numbers that are very comparable to what Werth did in 2010. Francisco was largely used as a pinch hitter and not a starter. If he had chances to start every day, he could find a rhythm and become more productive than an off-the-bench player.

Comparing Francisco’s stats to Werth’s stats for 2010, we can see there is not a big difference in the ratio of their stats between these two players.

In 554 at-bats for 2010, Werth batted for an average of .296 with 27 home runs and 85 RBI. Werth’s on-base percentage was .388 with a slugging average of .532. Werth did lead the league in doubles with 46 and had 13 stolen bases, but he had 147 strikeouts. Doing the math, that means that almost 27 percent of the time that Werth was batting, he struck out.

Francisco had 179 at-bats in 2010, which is just shy of a third of the at-bats that Werth had. During those 179 at-bats, Francisco batted .268 with six home runs and 28 RBI. Francisco had an on-base percentage of .327 with a slugging average of .441, which is not much less than Werth’s relative numbers. He also had 13 doubles and eight stolen bases.

If we were to adjust Francisco’s numbers to make it comparative to having played a full season, his numbers would be equivalent to 18 home runs, 84 RBI, 39 doubles and 24 stolen bases, assuming that Francisco’s numbers were directly proportionate through the season.

























Francisco (Adjusted to assume full-season stats)









If Francisco’s adjusted numbers proved to be his true production over the whole season, he would be a perfect replacement for Werth.

Francisco is a better player than he often gets credit for. He has not played full-time since before he came to the Phillies with Cliff Lee the first time Lee became a Phillie. Francisco batted one-third of the number of times that Werth did and produced exactly one-third of the RBI. That means that over the course of a full season, both of these players will have the same run-producing ability.

The one thing to mention about Francisco is that his home-run-producing ability is less than Werth’s, but as already mentioned, his RBI-producing ability is exactly the same. How can there be this paradox in numbers? The answer to that question is that Werth struck out about 27 percent of the time he batted, whereas Francisco only struck out 19 percent of the time he batted. Therefore, it is clear that Francisco strikes out eight percent less frequently than Werth.

Another answer to this question is that Werth bats for a much lower average when runners are in scoring position than Francisco does. Werth’s batting average with runners in scoring position was only .186, whereas Francisco’s average with runners in scoring position was .306. It can be seen here that Francisco is much better at producing runs when runners are on base than Werth is.

Francisco is a favorite to win Werth’s spot this spring because he will have a chance to shine and prove that he is better than many people expect him to be. Many people beyond myself claim that he is underestimated, including Werth himself and Brad Lidge.

Werth in an interview spoke of Francisco, saying, “I think Ben Francisco is a better player than people realize.” Werth does believe that the Phillies should have Francisco be the man that fills the hole he left. Charlie Manuel also claimed that Francisco is a primary candidate and said, “I think it’s time we give Ben a chance.”

Lidge also spoke of Francisco, claiming that he thinks Francisco is the Phillies’ best option to fill in for the loss of Werth. He said, “In my opinion, if Ben Francisco plays the way I think he can, if he delivers like a lot of guys on our team think he can, the blow of losing Jayson won’t be as big as it appears on paper.

“We’ll need Domonic Brown at some point and Ross Gload could be an everyday player. But to me, Ben is the key. He’s a right-handed hitter with 20-plus home run potential and he can play good D. You look at last year and guys like Ryan [Howard] and Chase [Utley] and Jimmy [Rollins] were hurt. I think we’ll be healthier and that will make up a lot for the loss of Jayson.”

Francisco should be the favorite to earn the starting right field spot this year. He can replace the defense that Werth once added to right field, and Francisco can also make up for Werth’s run-producing ability in the fifth spot in the lineup. Francisco is the answer to how the Phillies can replace Werth in all ways.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Top 10 Players To Fill Holes In Outfield After 2011

I know that it is way to early to be thinking about the 2012 season, as the 2011 season has not even started yet, or is it? Some teams as of right now know that they will not have a chance for the World Series, and some of those teams are probably already eying players who are due to hit the free agent market after the conclusion of the current season. It is wise for all teams to look at this point in time at the holes that may be left in their current roster after this season and see who will fit into that hole.

This offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies lost Jayson Werth to free agency, which has left a big question mark in the Phillies lineup to see who will replace Werth. Initially, there was talk about seeking the free agents to fill this hole. Names like Matt Diaz, Jeff Francoeur, and, the much coveted, Carl Crawford. The potential for all of these players sifted away when the Phillies signed Cliff Lee, which is perfectly fine with me and most Phillies fans.

In this coming offseason, Raul Ibanez is due for his contract to expire. Ibanez may be turning 39 years-old in June, but he still proved to be within the top three offensive producers for the Phillies in 2010, with the second highest on-base percentage following the All-Star break. So will the Phillies resign him or let himgo and find an in house replacement or seek free agency.

This list will contain outfielders that are due for free agency or are within the Phillies organization already that could fill the hole in the outfield.

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