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Patience with Ben Francisco: He Is Not All That Bad

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 23: Ben Francisco #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a triple against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on June 23, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Bobby YostCorrespondent IIJune 24, 2011

It's hard to go 15 minutes without hearing some fan complain about Ben Francisco. Their solution is usually to cut him or trade him for a bag of balls. For these short-sighted folk who just look at a .218 average and assume the player must be bad, they are wrong.

Their ire of the Phillies outfielders not named Victorino should be fully focused on Ross Gload and Raul Ibanez, who are worse than worthless. 

The main culprit of such a low average is simply a poor batting average of balls in play. Being one of the primary luck indicators, his .231 BABIP shows lady luck has not been on Francisco's side.

This is over 50 points lower than his career norm. Fortunately, such bad luck has not hampered with him still being a valuable player.

Thanks to a career-high 13.0 percent walk-rate, his on-base percentage is still a respectable .338, which is significantly higher than Ibanez's .290 and Gload's .313.

His increased walk-rate does not appear entirely a fluke, as he's been showing increased plate discipline and control. He's swinging at fewer balls outside the strike zone and when he does swing, he's been making more contact.

  Outside strike zone swing % Overall swing % Contact % Swinging-strike % Pitches/per PA
2011 20.4% 38.6% 83.7% 6.0% 3.91
Career 23.9% 43.2% 80.7% 8.1% 3.78

While Francisco won't be confused with Willie Mays in the field, he's still an average defensive player. Even though being an average defensive player doesn't sound awe-inspiring, it's certainly better than the albatross that is Ibanez.

All things considered, even with the poor average, he's managed 0.6 WAR. Admittedly, while that is not very impressive, it's a bargain when being paid just over a million dollars and compared to Ibanez's -1.9 at $11.5 million and Gload at -0.1 at $1.6 million.

I know many people are infatuated with having John Mayberry on the team, and I agree he should be, but not at the expense of Francisco. Hopefully, Manuel looks past Ibanez's ridiculous salary and has the guts to sit him in favor of a younger, cheaper and better Francisco.

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