Julio Franco

Presumably going to continue platooning with LaRoche; the latter doesn’t really need to be platooned, but he’s got a good partner anyway. Julio is actually one of the most consistent players on the team, despite his age. He had a power slump in 2002, but his percentages in 2001 and 2003-04 are eerily similar:

2001 .300 .376 .444
2003 .294 .372 .452
2004 .309 .378 .441

You know what you’re going to get. He plays okay defense, not as big of a deal with LaRoche as with some other first basemen he’s worked alongside. No longer fast, but a smart baserunner and an aggressive one when needed… Needs 43 hits for 2500, 18 doubles (his total last season) for 400, career batting average is .300 and he’d like to keep it there.

I like to use the similarity score lists at Baseball-Reference for players, normally the “Similar through Age” list. You can’t do that with Julio, because so few players have managed to play until 45, or whatever his real age is. The top player on his list without the age is BJ Surhoff, which seems like a fair comp, considering that nobody’s really had Julio’s career pattern. I don’t think anybody’s ever played anything like 715 games at short, 663 at second, 403 at first, and 367 at DH. Well, Paul Molitor maybe… No, Molitor didn’t play that much short, and did play a lot of third. I can’t think of anyone else.

Julio Franco Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

9 thoughts on “Julio Franco”

  1. Jose Offerman has been used very similarly over the course of his (somewhat shorter) career:

    SS – 607 games
    2B – 594
    1B – 245
    DH – 100
    LF – 5
    RF – 3
    CF – 1

    That’s the only guy I can think of at the moment.

  2. I have to agree with pretty much all of that. LaRoche probably doesn’t need platooning, but I like Julio too much to be upset about it. He’s incredibly dependable and one of the guys I most like to see at the plate in an important spot, because no matter what you know he’s gonna make the pitcher work and have a smart AB.

    I’d have to put him above average at first. His range isn’t the best but he can make some damn nice plays and picks the ball pretty well.

  3. If the Braves are going to keep Julio, they should platoon. He is better than LaRoche against lefties. It’s just that it’s odd that they notice this and not (say) Brian Jordan’s uselessness against righties.

  4. How amazing is this guy? He has been great for the Braves, to come back from the international leagues and produce at this level for so long.

    I like the platoon; LaRoche may be ready to go full-time, but he might as well spend another year working with this guy. He can learn a lot from him, not the least of which would be his way around a weight room.

    And having either Julio or Adam available as a pinch-hitter makes me confident, much more so this year (with Adam’s second-half coming out) than last.

  5. Platooning Julio and Adam is the best use of the teams resources at this point but they should let Adam stay in games he starts even if a lefty reliever comes in. Of course that depends on the situation. But if situation doesn’t dicate it why not let him bat and get the experience?

    Julio is amazing. I hope that he can keep up his recent level of performance this year.

  6. Since I am turning 45 this year, I am a HUGE fan of Julio’s. I do feel, however, that Adam should be allowed to bat against some of the “lesser” left handers to get the experience he needs against lefties to become the complete hitter he has the potential to be.

    As for Brian Jordan, I don’t think the Braves intend to play him every day (at least I hope they don’t) but instead platoon him with Langerhans. Jordan’s numbers against lefties is good enough to warrent a platoon IF he’s healthy.

  7. I don’t think anybody’s ever played anything like 715 games at short, 663 at second, 403 at first, and 367 at DH.

    He played before the DH and went straight from Short to 1B rather than stopping at second along the way, but Ernie Banks played about 1250 at short and 1125 at 1B and 100 elsewhere.

    Vaguely similarly, Rod Carew played over 1100 at 2B before moving to 1B.

    When I think of players who moved all over, played until late in life, and continued to play well, the first one I think of is Tony Phillips. Phillips played at least two seasons worth of games at Short, Second, Third, Left, and Right. But Phillips, unlike Franco, kept moving around throughout his career. Franco, like a good boxer, would stick and move, stick and move … having his career clearly marked as a SS (82-87), 2B (88-91), DH (93~97) and 1B (~96-04).

  8. I hope the Braves keep Julio on as the Spanish-speaking coach when he is too old to play. He seems to be a good influence on the younger players, is someone they can look up to, he can definitely relate to the bad boys, and he’s truly got great work ethic. Anyone who can stay around this long also clearly has a ton of baseball sense, and he’s had to have picked up even more insight playing in different countries.

    Count me in the Julio fan club!

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