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.