Wander Franco will be returning to the lineup tonight after being sidelined with right hamstring tightness on Sept. 10.
In his last game, Franco reached base in his first at-bat against the Detroit Tigers before pulling up and leaving the game early on. However, that hit against the Tigers kept his on-base streak alive, increasing it to 39 straight games.
At just 20 years Franco is doing something that just one other player in MLB history has done at his age, and that other player is Hall of Famer Frank Robinson.
Three nights prior to his injury, Franco passed Mickey Mantle with a walk in the seventh inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox, possibly his final at-bat of the night, to extend the streak to 37, setting a new American League record for any player age 20 or younger.
That was not a typo. Franco passed one of the greatest switch-hitters and power hitters of all time to set a new all-time American League record for on-base streaks.
As of this article’s release, Franco has the longest active on-base streak in MLB and the second-longest in franchise history…and he’s only been playing since June.
Let’s dive deeper into just how dominant this stretch has been for baseball’s “wanderkid”.
In Wander’s first 24 games in his MLB career, he slashed .221/.272/.358 in 95 at-bats with three home runs, 10 RBI, seven walks, 21 strikeouts and a .250 BAbip. He struggled out of the gate as many rookies do, but due to his high-profile status throughout his minor league career, it was heightened and illuminated that much more.
The final game of this stretch, July 24 against Cleveland, Franco put four balls in play that day, going 0-for-5 with a strikeout. Looking at his Baseball Savant page, of those four at-bats, the first two had exit velocities of 98.3 MPH & 101 MPH, both going roughly 380 feet.
To that point, his 101 MPH flyout was the 12th hardest-hit ball of his career. Since that date, Franco has hit 33 balls 100 MPH or more and that flyout is now the 38th hardest-hit ball of his career.
In those 39 games, over 151 at-bats Franco has slashed .325/.393/.530 with a .338 BAbip, 49 hits, 37 runs scored, 13 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 15 walks and 14 strikeouts.
He has raised his season average from .221 to .285 and his OPS from .630 to .810. His OBP sits around .350 and his slugging percentage is now over .460.
Post-ASG break, Franco has 58 hits, 41 runs scored, a .314/.376/.508 slashline and a 146 wRC+, along with an 8.3 percent walk rate and a 9.8 percent strikeout rate. For comparison, Franco’s strikeout rate pre-ASG break was 22.7 percent.
His 39-game on-base streak has catapulted him into the conversation for Rookie of the Year in the AL as he’s currently second among all MLB rookies with 250 plate appearances or more in wRC+, sitting just behind LaMonte Wade Jr. of the San Francisco Giants and fifth in fWAR with 2.2.
Basically, it took 20-year old Wander Franco a month to figure out MLB pitching…A MONTH. Regardless of how long the streak continues, Franco has continued to effortlessly adjust to higher levels of baseball and is an absolutely insane baseball player to watch.
We are watching the beginning of what has the potential to be an all-time baseball career, right in front of our eyes.