If a show can find a way to shoe-horn Mark Paul-Gosselaar, Beau Bridges, Heather Locklear and Malcom McDowell into the same office, I can find a way to relate Nick Franklin to Yasiel Puig. Hey, they’re both hot young things that deserve a thorough brief directed at those in redraft or shallow keeper leagues. Done!
Puig is up, and it’s cause for celebration and concern. If you believe in the importance of mental maturity, you may be worried about what Mike Newman had to say about the current state of Puig’s makeup. Then again, if he was pouting a bit in the minor leagues, the bright lights and few major league brushbacks might make him snap to attention fairly quickly.
There’s also a bit of concern when it comes to Puig’s long-term role with the team. He’s not a natural center fielder, and when Matt Kemp returns, the team will still have millions of dollars playing in the corner outfield and at first base. And the team would have to eat a lot of those dollar bills to make one of them go away, so Puig might return to the minor leagues as quickly as he came.
What’s most exciting about Puig, other than Tools & Holes, is his combination of awesome power and a modest strikeout rate. He’s like a ladybug, but tough. He lead the Southern (Double-A) league in isolated power, and yet his strikeout rate was only 33rd among qualified hitters. Only one qualified player (Jason Rogers) had an ISO over .200 and a better strikeout rate than Puig.
Walk and strikeout rates don’t necessarily translate directly to the major leagues. So the question about Puig’s ability to lay off of breaking stuff out of the zone is legitimate, even if he’s shown above-average walk rates in the minor leagues. But this chart from Chris St. John tells you why minor league walk and strikeout rates are still interesting to us:
And there’s your segue, since we can make a party out of anything. Nick Franklin is also up, and he’s also featured plus walk rates and good strikeout rates while on the farm. Well, his minor league strikeout rate of 19.2% doesn’t look plus, but you have to look closer, since he’s been working on that facet of his game. His biggest samples above A-ball have had him show 15.9%, 23% and, this year, 11.3% strikeout rates. With his major league whiff rate (yes in 21 plate appearances, but he has seen 89 pitches) at a tiny 3.4%, it seems possible that his true-talent whiff rate is better than the league average of 20%.
Given his plus walk rates, Franklin is already interesting in OBP leagues of any depth. Right now, because of a two-homer game, he’s showing power that’s frankly above his head. League-average power would fit his minor league profile (.172 career MiLB ISO, .172 at Double-A, .164 at Triple-A), especially considering his home park. He has already stolen seven bases without a caught stealing this year, but last year he only stole 15 on the year. So pencil him in for double-digits if he stays up all year.
Franklin might be the more interesting full-year pickup. Though he doesn’t have the same type of power and speed as Puig, he has a job that’s open for him all year and plays in the middle infield. In both cases, it might make sense to take the over on their projections — both Franklin and Bash have shown more patience and power than ZiPs want to give them the rest of the season.
But don’t go too far overboard. Because rookies almost enjoy to disappoint you, they’re good at it. If you’re in a redraft league, dropping a sure-fire veteran for one of these lotto tickets might not make a lot of sense. As bad as B.J. Upton has been, we know he has 20/30 talent, and you never know. Yasiel Puig might strike out 30% of the time in his first go-around at the league. That would make him a bust for you this year, even if he’s a good bet to be a long-term asset for the Dodgers.
443 batters have hit at least 20 times this year. Nick Franklin has swung the bat less often than 440 of them. http://t.co/9GsfplMgRx
— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) June 3, 2013
With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.