As you’ve probably heard by now, Julio is really old. How old is he? So old that when he came up as a possibly 23-year-old shortstop, Cal Ripken had just been moved to the same position. He’s two years older than Cal Ripken! Who retired as an all-time legend at the end of the 2001 season!
Julio’s played 715 games at shortstop, 663 at second base, 366 at DH, and 319 at first. I can’t say for sure, but I doubt anyone else has ever done that. I wouldn’t want him in the middle infield now, but he still has his uses. He tattooed lefties last year for a .351/.446/.532 line. (He was basically useless — 243/.297/.379 — against righties.) He’s a pretty good glove at first base. He doesn’t pull the ball, ever, but as a righthanded hitter that makes him a good #2 hitter in some ways. Not a basestealer, obviously, but he still runs okay and is a smart baserunner. The glove is less valuable now that Adam LaRoche is the other half of the platoon… Julio was dreadful as a pinch-hitter last year, .237/.293/.263 in 38 AB… Needs 142 hits for 2500, and I wouldn’t bet against it — he probably needs two more seasons. Four runs away from 1200. He’s seventh in hits among active players (if Fred McGriff indeed plays this year).
For what it’s worth, if Julio had qualified for the batting title last year, his .824 OPS would have ranked him 9th among first basemen, four points ahead of Kevin Millar.
Some retired sports stars Julio Franco (DOB: 8/23/58) is older than:
Fernando Valenzuela — 11/1/60
Bo Jackson — 11/30/62
Wayne Gretzky — 1/26/61
Dan Marino — 9/15/61
John Elway — 6/28/60
Michael Jordan — 2/17/63
Hakeem Olajuwon — 1/21/63
Charles Barkley — 2/20/63
Marcus Allen — 3/26/60
Howie Long — 1/6/60
John McEnroe — 2/16/59
By the way, Julio is also almost five years older than Jon Gruden (8/17/63) and less than a month younger than Mark Cuban (7/31/58).
He’s two years older than his hitting coach.
Other relevant Braves comparisons:
He’s only one year younger than Bob Horner and Glenn Hubbard.
One year older than Otis Nixon (retired 5 years ago)
One year older than Alejandro Pena (retired 8 years ago)
One year older than Mike Bielecki (retired 7 years ago)
Two years older than jerry Willard
As for pre-1991 Braves references – Born same year as Albert Hall, two years older than Nick esasky, Zane Smith and Gerald Perry, three years older than Jimm Pressly and Brad Komminsk, 4 years older than Oddibe McDowell and Dion James, 5 years older than Andres Thomas and Tommy Gregg.