-Ah, the year was 2009. And the Phillies were eyeing a left handedpitcher to take them to the promise land. The mighty GM Ruben Amaro proved fearless sending talented young players to Cleveland and got their ace. Even better, he came with a friend. His name was Ben Francisco. And that’s where the story starts.
Ok ok, this was not a fairy tale. We all know how it eventually ended. However, the pick up of Ben Francisco to supplement the Philliesalready talent laden outfield proved beneficial. In 2010, Francisco served, once again, off the bench as a fourth outfielder and reliable right handed bat for late inning match ups.
As a fourth outfielder, Francisco’s line of .268/.327/.441 worked perfectly into what the Phillies were looking for. He gave them a viable option off the bench who was a sound fielder and could hit for power. BenFran had six home runs and 28 RBIs in 179 at bats. Although it was his lowest power production since 2007, if given the chance to play an entire season Francisco could easily put up 20 and 70 as an everyday player.
Francisco’s above average quickness and ability to run the bases added to the already fast line up the Phillies had with (a healthy) Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth. He had 13 doubles and eight stolen bases in eight attempts.
Defensively, Phillies fans saw Francisco in all three outfield positions. He started 17 games in left, 10 in right and one in center. Overall he saw time in 45 games in the field. Obviously talented enough to play all over the outfield, he backed it up with a 1.000 fielding percentage in 63 chances to go along with three outfield assists.
Francisco is eligible for salary arbitration this offseason and I don’t see any reason for the Phillies not to make him an offer. With the Werth sweepstakes heating up, Amaro may look inside the organization to replace the right fielder and platooning Francisco and Domonic Brown seems a viable option. And at $470,000, Francisco isn’t going to cost much. The Phillies can use some of that extra money and bulk up their bullpen.
Francisco was very good at situational hitting. As a pinch hitter he hit .282 (11 hits). His numbers with (gasp) runners in scoring position were also very good. He hit .306 and had 20 RBIs. With two outs and RISP he went 7 for 23 with eight RBIs.
I think Francsico was a great fourth outfielder for the Phillies this pastseason and could thrive offensively with at bats coming more consistently.
KIERAN’S GRADE: 7.3/10
PAT GALLEN’S GRADE: 6.9/10 – Ben Francisco did his job this season, although most of us would like to see him contribute a little more. Can’t help it that Charlie won’t use him. He’s a great 4th outfielder and will be again next year.