Without Travis Hafner, Indians Still Looking To Fill The Void

Michael PopeAnalyst IJune 24, 2008

Quick--who's the Indians third place hitter?

The line-up spot, usually designated for a team's best hitter, has recently been occupied by Ben Francisco.

Ben Francisco?

With Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez hurting, the middle of the Indians' order is patchwork. And Francisco has surprisingly been the most consistent hitter.

For most of the year, the entire Indian line-up has been struggling, even when Hafter and Martinez were playing.

Overall, the team batting average is .245 and ranks eighth in the AL in runs scored per game.

Francisco might be as unfamiliar to baseball fans as an ice cube is to the Sahara.

In parts of seven minor league seasons, he's a .291 hitter with good contact rates and stolen base totals. But a third hitter?

Never a top prospect, Francisco was selected in the fifth round and rose steadily to the majors. He's made himself into a nice player, but would never be a third hitter under different circumstances. He's simply been the most consistent since his recall from Buffalo.

Casy Blake has been on fire after struggling early, Ryan Garko has looked off-balance and Jhonny Peralta has continued to perform inconsistently since a break-out 2005.

So, the Indians better hope Francisco continues to surprise and play as well as he has because without him, this team would really be in trouble.