Expectations for Nick Franklin, Brad Miller 

July, 26, 2013

It’s been a long time since the Seattle Mariners boasted a pair of productive, big league middle infielders at the same time, but look at the top of the batting order these days and Brad Miller and Nick Franklin are performing well enough to at least entice fantasy owners. Hey, it beats Dustin Ackley and Brendan Ryan, no? Miller doubled in a run in five at-bats in Thursday’s 8-2 rout of the Minnesota Twins, while Franklin bashed his eighth home run and knocked in three runs. Franklin has been up in the majors roughly twice as long as Miller, thus boasts the better statistics, but Miller’s walk rate is interesting and figures to make him a bit safer to own. Over the past 30 days, he ranks a bit higher on the Player Rater, though neither is a must-own at this point. In time, that should change.

Nick Franklin
Steven Bisig/USA TODAY SportsThe switch-hitting Nick Franklin has mashed righties so far, to the tune of a .292/.370/.533 slash line.

It’s not a surprise that Franklin is hitting for power, as his short, compact swing figures to result in at least 15 home runs annually. He strikes out a bit too much and certainly looks like he needs more work defensively at second base, but the Mariners can’t complain about his offensive upside so far, as hitting eight home runs in 49 games for a middle infielder is pretty good. It’s not Yasiel Puig, but he’s not a middle infielder, either. Franklin is actually one of the more popular drops in ESPN leagues, since he’s been slumping of late, but he’s likely to end up with double digits in home runs and perhaps stolen bases. In a fantasy world where the likes of Neil Walker are annually relied upon, I think Franklin projects as a 17th-rounder in ESPN drafts next season. His risk is batting average, but if he ends up at .260 or so, there will be no complaints.

I like Miller a bit more, though, because he controls the strike zone better and features enough power and speed to be relevant. So far what we’ve seen from Miller is a good walk rate and little else, but be patient. He homered twice against the Houston Astros in a game last week, sparking a rise in ESPN ownership, and the batting average is going to rise soon as well. It’s only 23 games and he hasn’t run much (only two stolen bases), but Miller just looks like he’s about to put up numbers. Of course, everyone thought Ackley would. Please don’t use Ackley as any gauge on why Franklin and Miller will struggle! There’s no relevance there.