Ben Francisco is arguably the most important player for the Phillies in 2011
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.