Dave · September 16, 2004 at 8:57 am · Filed Under Mariners 

After last night’s complete game shutout, Ryan Franklin has his ERA back down to 5.03. He’s going to reach 200 innings for the second straight year, and if he can finish the season with an ERA under 5.00, the M’s might be able to deal him.

He’s got some pretty bizarre home/road splits, though. Take a look at this:

Split ERA  IP   H  R  ER HR BB SO  
Home  3.92 85.0 82 41 37 16 32 51
Away  6.01 97.1 122 66 65 15 26 39

Obviously, he’s getting a huge boost from Safeco Field, which masks the fact that he’s a replacement level pitcher. But at home, he’s a three true outcomes pitcher, giving up lots of walks, lots of homers, and posting a decent enough strikeout rate. On the road, he’s the antithesis, throwing strikes, not missing bats, and giving up less longballs.

Safeco rates per 9 IP:

HR: 1.69
BB: 3.38
K: 5.40
BABIP: .268

Road rates per 9 IP:

HR: 1.39
BB: 2.41
K: 3.61
BABIP: .305

These are pretty bizarre splits. It doesn’t appear that he’s getting a boost from Safeco as much as he is from his defense at Safeco. The league average batting average on balls in play is about .300, so Franklin’s essentially getting a 3 % boost in not allowing hits at home. Whether that’s a park factor or the defense simply having a home field advantage, I have no idea.

Last year, Franklin was the beneficiary of tremendous defense behind him. This year, he’s gotten similar benefits but only while playing at home. When the team leaves Seattle, the defense has been league average, and he’s been exposed as a pitcher who relies completely on the contributions of his teammates.

In reality, the huge splits are probably explained away by sample size noise that would filter out over time, but it’s still interesting to me.


28 Responses to “Franklin”

  1. eponymous coward on September 16th, 2004 9:06 am

    Good luck with that. I suspect the M’s will keep him, as he fits the “gritty veteran with character” model, and they will blame his poor season on lack of run support.

    Of course, if the M’s do decide on a FA pitcher, the rotation (assuming a Piniero recovery) has one too many pitchers:


    Ideally if they didn’t trade Franklin they’d move him into the bullpen to help stablize it…

  2. Digger on September 16th, 2004 9:07 am

    What the heck. Give the guy credit fot the best-pitched game by a Mariner this year. I also note that in the three recent pitching gems, all close games, the hitting stars were Ibanez (twice) and Winn. None of these 3 guys are as bad as you folks make them out to be. Of the 9 Ms in the opening day batting order, only 3 are not having years that are somewhere between bad and horrible (e.g. compared to their PECOTA projections), and that group of 3 includes Ibanez and Winn. I expect them to be significant pieces of next year’s re-built team.

  3. Adam B. on September 16th, 2004 10:04 am

    Certainly both Winn and Ibanez have their benefits, and having them on a team could certainly be considered beneficial; but they’re both only average players that are going to block premium positions (LF, CF, 1B?) on a team that desperately needs some big bats in the order.

    I realistically don’t see either Winn or Ibanez being traded away, but if this team is going to improve, the outfield cannot remain as-is.

    As for Franklin, I have to agree with e-coward. His value is negliagble at best, and he conforms to the “veteran, hard-working, nice guy” model that has garnered so many schmucks incredibly generous Mariner contracts in the past.

    As long as “effectiveness” remains on the back-burner of the Mariner front-office list of priorities we’re going to continue to see any real progress.

  4. Evan on September 16th, 2004 10:11 am

    I can’t understand why the team couldn’t see after 2003 that Franklin had essentially been really really lucky, and moved him when his value was high. The chance that he had the magicaly ability usually reserved for knuckleballers to reduces BABIP was infinitesimal. The same goes for Hasegawa.

  5. DMZ on September 16th, 2004 10:15 am

    Digger: I don’t believe that we’ve really gotten after Winn or Ibanez this year, except to say that we Ibanez is particularly overpaid and Winn’s defense looked awful, especially early this year. Certainly, it’s not the same kind of firepower we’ve leveled at, say, Spiezio/Bloomquist/Melvin/etc.

  6. eponymous coward on September 16th, 2004 10:16 am

    Ibanez comes in as a slightly below “average” LF or 1B here:

    (Average LF EqA: .284 Average 1B .286 Ibañez EqA: .277)

    Winn comes in at .284, which makes him average in LF, above average in CF (but a defensive liability).

    Here’s the problem- if Winn and Ibañez are significant pieces of next year’s team, and Bucky and Ichiro are as well, you’ve just filled four of the 5 positions of LF, RF, CF, 1B and DH. So you have ONE lineup opening for a free agent at those positions (and Edgar, while not hitting like Edgar, isn’t a total trainwreck with a .273 EqA), Boone still at 2B, and the possible places to go to improve the hitting are 3B, SS, C. Two of those positions (SS and C) require specialized defensive skill and have the biggest premium with bats who can play defense.

    Oh yeah, and the best prospect in the system plays Winn and Ibañez’s best OF position…LF.

    The bottom line is that the easiest way for the M’s to improve their offense would be to nab a superior corner OF or 1B, since those are the positions where the most offensive talent are, as well as ditching Spiezio for a 3B who can hit above the Mendoza line.

  7. Jon on September 16th, 2004 11:10 am

    Franklin, Ibanez and Winn, for the same reasons they are each criticized by M’s fans, have severely limited trade value. Their respective contracts do not make them attractive to other teams, at least not enough to overcome their respective weaknesses on the field. Packaging Winn, for example, with Freddy Garcia last offseason (before non-tendering Cameron) would have been the best opportunity to get value for him. {If they had, maybe the M’s would have thought better about tendering Cameron, a true CF. Nah, that would have made too much sense.}

  8. Paul Weaver on September 16th, 2004 11:25 am

    Congratulations to Franklin on a well pitched game!

    Despite getting his second complete game of the year, I am with the consensus here that he is better matched as a long reliever. I doubt the right trade would come about, but a team like Kansas City? could use him, and they would have prospects to exchange. Actually any team with young pitchers would need a long relief man, so the M’s may be better off keeping him…

    This blogosphere is the palace of cynicism and pessimism. It is the antedote to mainstream, cheery, uncritical sources of Mariner’s talk. This is why we, for instance, criticize Ibanez for terrible 1B defense and ignore the home run he hits the same game.
    Winn and Ibanez will be the heroes once in a while. Heck, even Wilson and Bloomquist will win us a game or two here and there. It is part of baseball. But this is also a game of probabilities. We will want the players that will help us win most often.
    I believe that Winn/Ibanez/Bucky provide us a sufficient lf/dh/1b tandem next year in the absence of major acquisitions. However, if we want something other than “sufficient” (Grade C, mediocre), if we want regular heroes rather than sporadic ones, at least one of these guys is going to have to be moved.

  9. G-Man on September 16th, 2004 11:27 am

    Really, how many deals can we realistically expect the M’s to make this winter? There are bigger problems to solve, and Winn and Ibanez can play 2-3 positions each (OK, not Gold Gloverly, but they can play them). They are adequate hitters if there are some bigger sticks in the lineup. They probably shouldn’t be making the money they are getting, but I don’t think you could replace them for a whole lot less.

    First, let’s get a big stick or two. Then we can see what can be done with the holdovers to fit them in. If there’s a chance to trade Randy or Raul that develops then, fine, but it’ll be hard to do and wouldn’t gain us a lot. Even if it ends up that one of Winn/Ibanez/Bucky is on the pine every day, no big deal.

    You say that the front office should be able to do all this at once. History tells me they can’t or at least they won’t. If they do move Winn or Ibaqnez, it’s even money that we won’t like the deal that they make anyway!

  10. Jeremy on September 16th, 2004 11:29 am

    Does anyone know anything about Franklin’s knuckleball? I heard a Franklin interview back when Lou was managing where Ryan sounded really excited about his knuckleball and wanted to use it in games, but Lou basically said “no way.” Then before last night’s game, I heard Dave Niehaus almost beg Bob Melvin to let Franklin try out his knuckleball since there’s a stretch of games with nothing to really play for, and Bob Melvin also basically said “no.” Melvin did say that if Franklin “begged him” to be able to use it that he’d let him, or that he’d let him try it in spring training. Of course, Bob Melvin will be on unemployment then.

    Sticking Franklin in the rotation next-year is a no-risk no-upside move, but letting him use his knuckleball, depending on how good it is, at least gives him some upside (but probably very little).

  11. Paul Weaver on September 16th, 2004 11:41 am

    Hey, the knuckle ball turned Wakefield into a pitcher….

    It could make Franklin’s “fast” ball more effective.

  12. Ralph Malph on September 16th, 2004 12:21 pm

    I don’t think a knuckle ball makes a fastball more effective, because it is obvious to the batter that it is a knuckle ball. A knuckle ball isn’t like a changeup.

    Franklin was throwing 91-92 last night.

  13. Paul Weaver on September 16th, 2004 12:29 pm

    RM –

    My bad. For some reason I thought he was a mid to upper 80’s fastballer.

    Knuckleballs aren’t change-ups, but they are offspeed pitches and should mess with a hitter’s timing somewhat. Also, as far as I know, knuckleballs don’t tire the pitcher out as much, and could give his fastball more steam during longer stretches.

  14. G-Man on September 16th, 2004 12:36 pm

    Hey, the knuckleball would be great! Gold Glove receiver Miguel Olivo will have no trouble catching it. Will he?

  15. chris w on September 16th, 2004 1:03 pm

    Right now, the Ms have about 5 big gaping holes: SS, 3B, OF or 1B, and 2 starting spots. The hardest one to fix through free agency is going to be SS, so using Lopez might be the best bet – if he plays next year the way he’s played this year, that isn’t even really a big gaping hole anymore. The most obvious way to address these holes is to sign Beltre, Beltran, Pavano, and Clement, and move Ibanez to 1B. That’s probably about $50M worth of contracts. Check out Dugout Dollars: $50M is exactly how much the Ms should have available. The bench, all of a sudden, is decent, because you’ve got guys like Bucky, Spiezio, Leone, and Reed hanging around. Anyway, I know it isn’t that simple, and that there are potential issues (e.g. getting PT for the young guys), but I think that sums up what the Ms approach should be: fill your gaping holes with guys that you can pretty sure are going to play well, and let all the mediocrity regress to the mean where it belongs.

  16. chris w on September 16th, 2004 1:14 pm

    My post above is wrong about the money available (it seemed a little high). With Boone’s contract vesting, and assuming a $95M cap for next year, the Ms will only have approximately $41M available. It really makes me mad that they ignore the money they saved on Freddy’s contract and Kaz’s contract, though. Anyway, either (a) forget about one of the starter free agents; or (b) trade Winn and Franklin for prospects, and the point remains: fill the gaping holes and let the rest take care of itself.

  17. Troy Sowden on September 16th, 2004 1:16 pm

    There’s no way we have $50 million to spend, and there’s no way we sign two top-tier pitchers. I’d be schocked if we don’t go into the year with Piniero, Meche, Madritsch, and Moyer in the rotation. I think we have closer to $30 million to spend. If we could move some payroll and get three big-time additions – Beltre, Beltran (or Drew) and Pavano or Clement I’d be thrilled.

  18. Troy Sowden on September 16th, 2004 1:18 pm

    Well you beat me to it. I still don’t think we have that much after you factor in the arby eligibles and a few other things – does that total reflect Guardado’s money? And I hate to say it, but I bet they’ll count Cirillo against next year (nevermind that the money we came in under budget this year could have wiped out the Cirillo money and then some).

  19. Ralph Malph on September 16th, 2004 1:26 pm

    Is some of this year’s salary savings offset by losses in revenue this year?

  20. Jeremy on September 16th, 2004 1:30 pm

    If Franklin were to become a knuckleballer, the M’s could use Olivo as their #1 catcher and then have Dan Wilson or whoever else become their #2 knuckleball catcher (who would also catch on other days), like Mirabelli is with the Red Sox. I don’t see a huge problem with that?

    Somewhat off-topic: I’ve said this before, but pleeease don’t push for the M’s to sign Beltre. I know this site will probably have zero effect on the M’s personnel decisions, but signing Beltre is a disaster waiting to happen, in my opinion. All the pieces are there: a clear 3B need, M’s with a ton of money to spend, and management with an overly optimistic vision of players.

    How often does a player have a huge breakout season that actually sticks? Sure, Beltre was a big prospect, but so was Darin Erstad.

    Erstad’s age 25 season: .253/.308/.374
    Erstad’s age 26 season: .355/.409/.541
    Erstad’s age 27 season: .258/.331/.360 (and maintained around that performance since)

    Beltre’s age 25 season: .240/.290/.424
    Beltre’s age 26 season: .336/.387/.638 (so far)

    Both guys are very similar in hitting performance. They were decent to flat out bad before their “breakout” seasons and had a huge batting average increase and about .100 higher ISO in their breakout season in the same year. Richard Hidalgo is very similar but his 2003 nearly matched his age 24 breakout season in 2000, and I’m sure someone more knowledgable can find similar examples.

  21. Pat Gillick\\\'s Hemorrhoids on September 16th, 2004 1:35 pm

    The bench, all of a sudden, is decent, because you’ve got guys like …Spiezio…

    You’re kidding, right?

  22. Ralph Malph on September 16th, 2004 1:40 pm

    At least he didn’t say guys like Spiezio and Bloomquist.

  23. Dave on September 16th, 2004 1:42 pm

    If we create a permanent “ideas on free agency” thread and stick it in the left nav-bar, will you guys promise to stop hijacking every thread?

    I’m only half kidding.

  24. Evan on September 16th, 2004 1:57 pm

    Franklin’s on record saying that Bryan Price won’t let him throw his knuckler in games.

    No idea why. Franklin jokes that they’re saving it for when he’s older, but by the gods wouldn’t you want him to try it now to see if it’s vaguely decent?

  25. Sergey on September 16th, 2004 2:01 pm

    Franklin’s unusual home/road splits

    Randy Winn’s struggled in centerfield at the beginning of the season. Ryan pitched 4 out of 5 games on the road to start the season. Could awful era be explained by that?

  26. dmc on September 16th, 2004 2:11 pm

    an “ideas on free agency” permalink by noon tomorrow, or we’ll start arguing – every hour, on the hour, over the merits of Gil Meche (hastening what already appears to be an inevitable addition of a clause to Godwin’s Law that covers Meche).

  27. eponymous coward on September 16th, 2004 2:15 pm

    Yes, a permanent thread would be nice.

  28. eponymous coward on September 16th, 2004 2:21 pm

    And to be back on track, I vote for sample size. Franklin’s probably a 4.50 ERA pitcher as a starter (which is to say close to replacement value ERA-wise, with the bonus of a rubber arm).

    I think he has some value above that as a bullpen guy/emergency starter/long man, which is a role that’s been deemphasized with the decline in doubleheaders in the modern era, but can be useful if you have a manager who knows how to use their bullpen. Having someone who can do a 4-5 inning stint with a low pitch count may win you some extra-inning games without ruining your bullpen, or keep you in games when your starter is shaky…and Franklin seems to have a little more oomph on his stuff out of the bullpen.