2020 KC Royals season preview: Maikel Franco

KC Royals, Maikel Franco (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Maikel Franco (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals new third baseman will have to prove that the contract was worth it and hopefully regain some offensive and defensive production.

Welcome back to the Kings of Kauffman 2020 KC Royals season previews. We are working our way through 30 different Royals that fans will likely see throughout the 2020 season. We will include what they accomplished last season, what can be expected of them for the coming season, and any other pertinent information. Today, we are looking at Maikel Franco.

What did he offer last season?

Franco spent 2020 with the Philidelphia Phillies, the team he had spent his entire career with up to this point. While Franco had been known for putting up 20 plus home runs in years prior to 2019, he fell off a bit during the 2019 season.

Franco slashed .234/.297/.409 with 56 RBIs and 17 home runs. Franco did see fewer games than previous years at 123 but he also spent a short time on the injured list causing him to miss a few games.

Why Franco fell off is unknown, but at 26, his numbers do bring some concern to those looking towards the future. He has never been a high average hitter but take for example 2016. Franco slashed .255/.306/.427 and added 88 RBIs, 67 runs, and 25 home runs. While that might not scream All-Star to some, for a team like the Royals, a player with those numbers is just a few tweaks away from being a future, productive piece.

Unfortunately, due to his down 2019 season, Franco will have to prove that he can regain those numbers and maybe even produce more. Along with his offensive stats, Franco brings along concerns defensively. Hunter Dozier was not the best third baseman in the league defensively, but neither is Franco. If he wants to keep his spot, he will have to prove he deserves it.

What should we expect in 2020?

Here are the stat line projections for Franco’s 2020 season from both Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs:

B-Ref: .247/.303/.439, 1 3B, 19 2B, 20 HR, 62 RBI, .742 OPS

FG: .267/.329/.437, 1 3B, 24 2B, 20 HR, 65 RBI, .802 OPS

Thankfully, both projections show franco improving, though it would be nice if he exceeds at least Baseball-Reference’s projections. The Royals need a resurgence from Franco to show that their bet on him was right and to help them progress to find their way out of the 100 loss seasons.

While the numbers still may be a bit low for some, in some aspects, if Franco can live up to the FanGraph projections, then offensively, he will have bounced back decently and made the Royals bet slightly worth it.

The Verdict

Taking a look at the projections above, there’s a bit of a mixed, unknown feeling about how Franco will ultimately perform. Both have him going 20 home runs, but that’s still to be seen. What will be important is if Franco actually can improve on his 2019 numbers and show that he can increase his third base defense.

Franco’s signing has already come into question because the Royals are replacing a third baseman in Dozier who struggled defensively but had a break out year offensively, with a third baseman who struggled in both categories.

Even if Franco can show some improvement, though, it’s still up in the air whether or not he is a building block for the future, or a step to help the Royals out of the pit. If Franco can show enough resurgence to start the year, the Royals best bet may be to start shopping around and see if there are any buyers.

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It’s unknown how Franco will fair, but for the Royals sake, he will hopefully regain his offensive power and pick up some defense somewhere along the way. If he can help the team progress even a little, the signing may go from unnecessary, to just questionable.

How do you feel about the Franco singing? Do you think it will pay off, or the money could have been spent elsewhere? Let us know!