Brainstorm: Nick Franklin — Minor Leagues

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== The Young LumberKing Grows Up ==

I’m not obsessed with splits.  Particularly with minor-league data, since we don’t have a ton to go on in the first place, and there’s not much point in chopping it up into even smaller amounts.  Plus, in the real world, guys play at home and on the road and face pitchers of both hands, and they have to get results, so I tend to focus on results.

But, as a means of diagnosis — like figuring out how Nick Franklin can have so much talent but rank so low on our analytical ratings — sometimes splits make all the difference.

Before we go there, though, let’s see how Little Nicky graded out generally:

Traditional Hitting Statistics

Year Age Lvl G PA AB H 2b 3b HR BB K BA OBP SLG OPS
2009 18 Rk-A- 16 65 63 21 4 1 1 2 8 0.333 0.354 0.476 0.830
2010 19 A-AA 130 578 516 146 22 7 23 51 124 0.283 0.354 0.486 0.841
2011 20 A+-AA-Rk 88 401 352 99 13 7 7 37 80 0.281 0.352 0.418 0.770
2012 21 AAA-AA 121 535 472 131 32 9 11 48 106 0.278 0.347 0.453 0.800
2013 22 AAA 39 177 142 46 9 0 4 30 20 0.324 0.440 0.472 0.912

Spectometer Analysis [Note on minor-league analysis here.]

Year Age Lvl HR% BB% XBH + BB% ISO K% PSA+ Conv+ Comp
Age Arc Slugger > 4% Goal > 8.5% Goal > 19% Goal > .200 Goal < 20% Strong Prospect > 100
2009 18 “-1” 1.54% 3.08% 12.31% 0.143 12.31% 63 88 51
2010 19 “-1” 3.98% 8.82% 17.82% 0.203 21.45% 87 94 81
2011 20 “-2” 1.75% 9.23% 15.96% 0.137 19.95% 78 72 50
2012 21 “-2” 2.06% 8.97% 18.69% 0.175 19.81% 85 92 77
2013 22 “-1” 2.26% 16.95% 24.29% 0.148 11.30% 162 104 166

First thing to note is that Franklin was young for his level all the way up.  Second thing is that he is a middle infielder, and benefits from position scarcity.  Third thing is that in 2011 he was hit in the face with a bat, and then fell ill while recovering from that, so it was sort of a “lost season.”

But, even with all that, Franklin does not “light up the board” until his torrid streak at AAA last year (which was only 39 games and 177 PAs).

And that’s when we have to go to the splits, and we see that switch-hitting Franklin is, in fact, two different hitters:

Spectometer LH-hitting only

Year Age Lvl HR% BB% XBH + BB% ISO K% PSA+ Conv+ Comp
Age Arc Slugger > 4% Goal > 8.5% Goal > 19% Goal > .200 Goal < 20% Strong Prospect > 100
2009 18 “-1” 2.13% 4.26% 12.77% 0.156 12.77% 71 90 60
2010 19 “-1” 4.83% 9.89% 20.00% 0.241 19.77% 106 112 118
2011 20 “-2” 1.76% 10.21% 17.96% 0.153 21.83% 82 77 59
2012 21 “-2” 2.76% 9.27% 20.05% 0.204 19.80% 93 104 97
2013 22 “-1” 2.92% 17.52% 24.82% 0.165 9.49% 175 111 186

Spectometer RH-hitting only

Year Age Lvl HR% BB% XBH + BB% ISO K% PSA+ Conv+ Comp
Age Arc Slugger > 4% Goal > 8.5% Goal > 19% Goal > .200 Goal < 20% Strong Prospect > 100
2009 18 “-1” 0.00% 0.00% 11.11% 0.111 11.11% 41 84 25
2010 19 “-1” 1.40% 5.59% 11.19% 0.096 26.57% 29 43 -28
2011 20 “-2” 1.71% 6.84% 11.11% 0.095 15.38% 70 61 31
2012 21 “-2” 0.00% 8.09% 14.71% 0.092 19.85% 62 58 20
2013 22 “-1” 0.00% 12.82% 20.51% 0.091 17.95% 103 73 77

So, in Franklin’s 2010 season for the Clinton LumberKings, he may have been royal from the left side, but he was a LumberJester from the right side.  Not only did he have terrible plate skills (few walks, lots of strikeouts), when he did put the ball in play, he hit with no authority (sub-.100 ISO).

Still, Franklin-the-lefty was so brilliant (splendid numbers for a teenage shortstop) that (so long as he could maintain that) all Franklin had to do was learn to be not-awful as a righty.

And he did!

Well, mostly.  He still did not hit the ball hard (note that the RH ISO column stays pretty constant), but the walk rate climbed up by 2013, and the strikeout rate was finally decent.  All of which meant that his RH numbers were not that much of a drag on his scorching-hot LH numbers during his 2013 AAA run.  [Noting, of course, that it was a pretty small amount of data (177 PAs total).]

And don’t lose sight that Franklin was doing all of this while sometimes two years younger than typical for his level, and with all of the complications of 2011.

So then came the majors.

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