CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 23: Juan Francisco #25 of the Atlanta Braves plays third base during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 23, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
In Bill Shanks' latest column he asks if Juan Francisco could be an option to start at third base next season, after Chipper Jones retires. When the Braves traded for him this spring they had to hope that Francisco would play good enough to earn a starting role, and after a rough start he seems to have done what is necessary to make the team believe he is a top option at third next season.
There are some questions with Juan, and one is his weight. Shanks does a good job of addressing that here:
Plus, if Atlanta decided to go with Francisco as a regular, they'd be smart to keep him locked in Fulton County this offseason and have him work with a personal trainer. Shed about 25 of those listed 243 pounds and his range may not be as bad as it is right now.
I couldn't have said it better myself. That added weight makes Francisco look sluggish, especially in the field. We have all seen the turnaround that Melky Cabrera has made this year, which has coincided with him shedding excess pounds. Hopefully the Braves can make this happen with Juan.
While Francisco is performing well enough to be a decent starter at third base right now, he could take it to the next level with a more fit and trim build. His range, according to all advance defensive metrics, is not even is as good as Chipper's this season, though surprisingly it's better than Prado's. Somehow that doesn't pass my eye test, but that's why we have stats. Of course, with such little playing time for Prado at third base this season the stats probably don't have time to normalize. Over the course of his career, Prado has had average range at third base.
But getting back to Francisco. He needs to lose some weight, keep mashing mammos, and the Braves might have found themselves a pretty decent heir to Chipper at third base.