Phillies Player Review: Kevin Frandsen – Phillies Nation
2012 Player Reviews

Phillies Player Review: Kevin Frandsen

Context is key in any evaluation or analysis.

I’ll probably have that phrase etched on my tombstone. Judging numbers in conjunction to the league average, the player’s past averages, or both, is the single most important aspect of analysis. Otherwise, it’s impossible to truly grasp what the information means.

I’ll stop there before this player review devolves into a Morpheus-style philosophical discussion, but just remember that context is integral to understanding information. It’s also particularly appropriate when discussing Kevin Frandsen‘s 2012 campaign because he exceeded every possible expectation this past season.

Frandsen performed at a level that nobody, likely himself included, thought was possible. On their own, Frandsen’s numbers were quite solid over a small sample of plate appearances. Relative to his various pre-season projections and the meager playing time he was expected to receive, his numbers were literally off the charts.

He established career bests in practically every statistical category, and every time it seemed like his production would start suffering, he churned out a 3-5 night with a double, triple and two hard-hit lineouts. Sure, his line was driven by a sky-high batting average on balls in play, but it’s foolish to write off or ignore what he actually did this season based on the likelihood that he regresses in the future.

Frandsen made the absolute most of his opportunity this year and ranked 4th on the team in WAR/PA, behind Carlos Ruiz, Erik Kratz and Chase Utley.

Kevin Frandsen hit a relatively gaudy .338/.383/.451 this season, with a .358 wOBA and a 125 wRC+. Among the 29 National League third basemen with 200+ plate appearances, Frandsen’s wOBA and wRC+ ranked 6th. In both cases, he was a mere point behind Chipper Jones. Frandsen fielded at an average level and wasn’t a baserunning liability either. While it’s not accurate in the least to assume he would continue producing at this level had he played an entire season, it’s fun from an anecdotal standpoint to note that his 1.6 WAR in 210 PAs prorates out to 4.5 WAR over 600 PAs.

Entering the season, Frandsen had a career wOBA under .300. From 2006-11, he posted the following marks: .268, .310, .000 (in 1 PA), .182, .278, and N/A, since he didn’t play in the majors last season. That’s important to keep in mind; this was a guy that couldn’t even get a September call-up last season, and yet his production this year convinced many a Phillies fan that the third base position is solved in the interim.

Essentially, Frandsen combined his highest minor league batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, across several seasons, and produced better than that at a much higher level.

We can’t ignore the elephant in the room, however, in that Frandsen was able to put up these great numbers thanks to a .366 BABIP. While some hitters can live comfortably above .300, Frandsen’s career major league rate was around .280 prior to this season. This isn’t to say that he didn’t produce well in 2012, but rather that skepticism regarding his ability to continue playing at this high of a level is merited. Among those same 29 third basemen, only Colorado’s Chris Nelson posted a higher BABIP. Frandsen also finished with a paltry 4.3% walk rate, which was among the lowest in that hot corner crop.

Given that it’s unlikely to repeat such a high BABIP, but that it’s equally unlikely he suddenly develops patience at the major league level, the Frandsen on display this year probably won’t be around moving forward. However, he made some very real improvements beyond just BABIP. Or, at least, as real as an improvement can be over 210 plate appearances.

Frandsen really hit the ball hard this year, posting a 24.3% line drive rate that was far and away better than his previous 16% average. He also kept balls on the ground at above a 50% rate, meaning that his two primary sources of batted balls were the ones that go for hits more often than not. He may not continue to hit liners at this rate, but his spike in BABIP is at least partially explained by the surge in this area.

One reason he may have hit the ball harder is increased selectivity. He reduced his rate of out-of-zone swings, relative to both the league average and his own past rates, but became far more efficient and effective on those pitches. In fact, his 78.6% contact rate on out-of-zone pitches ranked 25th out of the 182 NL players with at least 200 PAs. His 93.2% contact rate on in-zone pitched ranked 29th among the same group. He was hitting the ball harder and making more contact, which is generally a good recipe for success.

Frandsen probably isn’t the solution at third base, but with Cody Asche’s likely arrival in 2014, the Phillies should enter 2013 with him in mind as a major player at the position. He certainly earned that with his torrid play this season. He had a heck of a half-season with the Phillies, and his offense, while bound for regression moving forward, was a big part of the team’s second-half surge.

Grade: A…. I don’t give out A+ marks lightly, but I strongly considered it here. Frandsen blew his expectations out of the water and became a key member of the lineup down the stretch. We might never see that same guy again, but it doesn’t at all erase what he accomplished this season.

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0 Comments

  1. phil

    October 12, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Jimmy Rollins had the 3rd highest war on the team and if you do fwar he had the 2nd. Frandsen was 4th and kratz was 5th. Just saying

    • Eric Seidman

      October 12, 2012 at 9:29 am

      I’m not sure what you’re saying. The purpose of including the WAR/PA was to show that he produced very well in limited action. Obviously the raw tally accounts for more playing time. This post has nothing to do with Jimmy Rollins.

  2. Dave P

    October 12, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Good read. Hopefully Frandsen is not a flash in the pan, I’d like to think that his production earned him a closer look at third base. If we spend our money on the outfield, I think that Frandsen could be passable at third, at least in the short term.

    • mrbeto

      October 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm

      I think he should be given a chance to play third.

  3. bacardipr

    October 12, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I was surprised with Frandsden myself. Sure he botched a few plays but overall was ok. I kept waiting similar to Kratz for his BA to take a nose dive but he kept it up. This can also be dangerous as well. Now that he propelled himself to the spotlight. Is he for real or is he going to revert back to a .250 hitter?

  4. phil

    October 12, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Oh war per pa my bad

  5. Ken Bland

    October 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I worked as a substitute teacher for a brief period of time. By the time I finish this true tale, they’ll be wondering if it was a 1 day stint. Having volunteered for King of Destruction honors when the tables were turned, and I was the student on sub teacher day, one day, I got my own medicine served on a silver platter, and the class ran out of control. Roundabouts lunch time, I decided when they got back, they would write I will not talk in class 2k times with the incentive that when they finished, they could leave sshool. Half the rugrats fell asleep, and the other 90% were illiterate to begin with. How would I have graded ’em? Unknown. One day was too short a stint. I wouldn’t grade Fransden. On base pct off a fine BA, BAPIP or not, was his one glowing factor. Power equal to the nights went out in New York City. Defense? Meh. Comme ci comme ca. PR and passion? Excellent. Signed ‘graphs one night 25 minutes before game time, came back from the pits of a potent career gone bad. I’d for damned sure give the dude his diploma, and congratulate him on virtually securing an MLB job for the next 3, 4, maybe 5 years, but the diploma gots to be enough enough. A is for awesome, and he’s not awesome under most any circumstance. And where he did excell, he was better than above average, which in shorthand is B. Limited all around player, maxed out his skill set. But for the field in general consideration, A is way too kind.

  6. DCmikey

    October 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Before I read the article and all the comments- he better get an A!!
    A+ if his defense was a shade better.

    A

  7. BART SHART

    October 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Fransden was outstanding. He deserves a real shot at third base next year. He shows he can hit and he can field. He is a contact hitter and likely a 280 hitter with extra-base pop. Plus he will not cost the Phils much. AT THE VERY LEAST, he can be an outstandin utility player, giving Rollins, Utley an occasional day off and playing platoon at third base.

  8. DCmikey

    October 12, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Spend on an OF. we need that over a 3B.

    OF, bullpen, then 3B. Should be our priorities.

    And are we really considering Galvis taking over Chase 2014??? Chase will be gone, right? No chance we bring him back for the money and years he will prob want.

    • hk

      October 13, 2012 at 7:43 am

      We should probably wait to see what Chase produces in 2013 before deciding whether or not to resign him. Same with Galvis…we have another year to see if he can improve his hitting and determine whether his future is as a full-time player or as a utility IF / defensive replacement.

  9. Lefty

    October 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    I agree that context is key and the grade is fair based on that.

    But I hope to the almighty that Manuel and Amaro Jr. realize what’s behind the numbers, and still look to upgrade the position. I’m pretty confident he could be a fine “Greg Dobbs type” bench player. He can hit a baseball, but is he a speedster? No. Is he a power threat? No. Is he an above average fielder? No.

    I hope an upgrade is made at the position through trade some how some way, (not an easy task) and I hope Frandsen is given an opportunity to stay with the club as well.

  10. bacardipr

    October 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I second Lefty post. Although it will be hard to get a upgrade at 3B, not sure how Rube will pull it of.

    • Lefty

      October 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      I don’t know either, I know it’s a lot to ask. I just want to get back to being a championship contender, and don’t think Fransden being a starter at third would help them do that. Just my opinion, doesn’t mean I’m right.

      • brooks

        October 13, 2012 at 4:49 am

        There isn’t one among us that does not share your concern my friend.
        Frandsen at third base is a better option than Poly at this point. He may never come close to the offensive production that Poly once gave us nor Pedro Feliz but right now, what he has offered so far is better than what we’ve seen lately.

        Focus needs to be on the OF first. If the Phils can get a decent hitting offense together, he can fit nicely in the middle of it.

  11. psujoe

    October 12, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Starter or reserve, Frandsen is a player than should get some PT spelling at 2b and 3b. If the Phils can trade for a power OFbat like Josh Willingham I’d be OK with starting the season with Frandsen at 3b. I believe Heatley will cost too much, What would it take to get Willingham and his nice $7 million salary.

    • hk

      October 13, 2012 at 7:45 am

      I would like to see the team sign a LH hitter like Eric Chavez, assuming he’ll sign a relatively cheap one year deal, to platoon with Frandsen and PH.

  12. brooks

    October 13, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Well, now that the Orioles and the Nats have been eliminated – I will probably not watch any more baseball this year.
    Rangers
    Orioles
    Nationals
    The only team that has a little bit of my interest anymore is the Tigers (kiss of death?)

  13. Ryne Duren

    October 13, 2012 at 10:08 am

    personally i think fransden is on the team regardless of anything. do i feel he should start or would keep up that .335 ave. he posted for an entire year? my answers are starting? (i don’t know) BA? not likely. however. if he’s capable of hitting .280+ i’m ok with that. he’s a gutsey, scrappy player! he works the pitcher. and seemed to be a tough out and a hitter who can keep an inning going. poly is and has been done for two years now. so in my eyes he can give us what poly was supposed to! no he’s not poly defensively. not many 3rd basemen are. but he’s a lot better than anyone else we had playing there! and in my eyes it’s gonna take a huge loss of overall talent to aquire headley at this point based on the year he just had. so if we want the phils to retain a lot of our prospects why not try him as the stopgap till asche is ready? for all we know asche might surprise everyone in ST and make the team, or show enough promise to warrent a call up in mid season if he’s doing well and fransden isn’t. i would concentrate on a reliable steady 8’th inning guy, and the outfield. possibly another established starter. this is gonna be an exciting offseason.

  14. c schreiber

    October 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Let’s put it this way..the worst he can be on this team is the utility infielder..who’s he up against for the position, oh, minimart Never mind he has no chance versus Cholly’s grandson.

  15. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    October 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Frandsen was a more than pleasant surprise. He’s got great hustle, intensity, and drive resulting in hard-nosed play and a dirty uniform almost every game. What’s not to like? However, as pleased as I was with his batting stats, it was not over a full season. Will he regress to normal or sub-par? Can he replicate his small sample size? Until we find a better replacement at third, he look like one the possibilities for the position during spring training. I will also agree with what Lefty had posted.
    All that being said I will give him an N/A for the year, but a solid A- for his performance within the sample size.

  16. Drewcifer

    October 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Frandsen gets an A for being one of four fielders who you knew would show up and play hard when they were in the line up, along with Chooch, Kratz and JP.

    He played well enough to show that, going in to spring training, he should be the favorite for third base. Asche is still a year or two away, and Polly is a year or two past his prime. Frandsen is cheaper and just as capable, while being a bit more durable. And not needing a specially-made oversized helmet.

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