Monday, May 15, 2006

 

The Franco-Files #2



In which we track the exploits of baseball's oldest player: 47-year-old Julio Franco.

Alright -- this is not going to be just an update on Julio's week that was. It's going to be an update on Julio's 2006 season thus far. Let's look at some stats to begin:

Season Thus Far: 4-for-20 (.200) with one home run and four RBIs.

Pinch-Hitting: 4-for-16 (.250) with one home run and four RBIs

Starting: 0-for-4

Yes, it's true. We're in the sixth week of the season, and Julio has accumulated just 20 at-bats. Now, it was obviously understood going into the season that Julio would be a reserve player. And the Mets are certainly stronger at first base (Carlos Delgado) then were the Braves last season (Andy LaRoche). But, still. Just 20 at-bats? Just one start? Just one appearance in the field? Last season, Julio accumulated 233 at-bats over 108 games. In 2006, he is on a pace for about 90 at-bats over 90 ballgames.

Hey! Mets' Manager Willie Randolph! Show some respect for baseball's elder statesman. Get him more at-bats! Put him in the field once in a while! Your investment will pay off -- Julio wins ballgames with his baseball acumen. His acumen is so advanced that it makes other players acumen look like acuboys.

Now, that said, Julio hasn't been too hot as of late. He is hitless in his past 10 plate appearances (spanning seven ballgames). He only has one extra-base hit on the season (more on that later), he has walked just twice; his on-base percentage is a dismal .273. But this is not very concerning. 20 at-bats is simply too small a sample size. The baseball season is long and unpredictable. Julio will heat up right along with the weather. You can bet on it.

Now, let's look at some of the notable occurences of Julio's season thus far:

OLDEST PLAYER EVER TO HIT A HOME RUN!!! -- On April 20th against the San Diego Padres, Julio pinch-hit in the eighth inning with one out and a runner on second. The score was tied, 2-2. Well, with one mighty swing from Julio the score became 4-2, as our 47 year, 240-day-old hero became the oldest player in baseball history to hit a home run. The previous record holder was Jack Quinn, a PITCHER for the Philadelphia Athletics who homered on June 27, 1930, at the age of 46 years, 357 days. Quinn, amazingly enough, pitched three more seasons in the Major Leagues before retiring at the age of 49. He evan managed to hit a double in 1932 -- so Julio is NOT the oldest player to collect an extra-base hit. But, back to Julio -- his historic shot came off of permanent historical footnote Scott Linebrink. The Mets won the game 7-2. It was Julio's first dinger since August 13, 2005. After the game, Julio remarked: "That won't be the last home run I hit, and I hope I hit one when I'm 50."

78th On the All-Time Hits List! -- Julio's last hit was a single that came against the Giants' Tim Worrell on April 26. Well, that single gave him 2525 hits on his career, vaulting him past Hall-of-Famer Heinie Manush on baseball's all-time hits list. Friday was the 35th anniversary of Manush's death. May he rest in peace.

EJECTED! -- See that picture at the top right of this post? That's a ball, right? Not according to umpire Doug Eddings, who called it strike 3, ending Kaz Matsui's at-bat and the Mets' chance at an eighth inning rally on May 9. Julio was in the on-deck circle at the time, and he was livid that Matsui was called out on such a borderline pitch. He vociferously argued with Eddings, who tossed him from the game. Afterwards , Julio had this to say:

“The pitch was high. You guys could tell on TV. He changed the whole outcome of the game by making one call. You never know what could’ve happened there. We could’ve won the ball game or we lose the ball game. I’m not saying it’s because of him, but one call can change the whole outcome of the game. You got a guy that is wild, you know, with a situation like that with the bases loaded who knows what’s gonna happen. Who knows, so you gotta make sure. If it’s close, okay, but it wasn’t even close. I know…you make mistakes, but what I’m saying is that if you make the mistake and I pay for it – it doesn’t work that way…

Julio Franco. The competitive fire still burns within.

Julio's Season Thus Far:

Julio has been a combined 314 years older than the 18 pitchers he has faced (17.4 years average).

Oldest Pitcher Faced: Roberto Hernandez, 40.

Youngest: Kyle Davies, 22

Next Monday: We really get going!


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