Kevin Frandsen at Fangraphs
Kevin Frandsen at Baseball Reference
I like Kevin Frandsen. I can't really tell you why I do, I just do. From afar, he seems like a good guy. I'm not saying other players don't seem like fun, gregarious guys, because certainly a lot of them do also seem like they might be, but Frandsen exudes that aura a little bit more, to me anyway. Maybe not more than Jimmy, or Ryan, but he's up there. Maybe it's because as a former moderately well-regarded prospect he has been the victim of some unfortunate luck which has left him an overlooked, journeyman-type player. The classic underdog. Maybe it's because has a batting helmet straight out of the Krukker/Manny collection.
Maybe it's because of tweets like this:
@jaysonst c'mon I wasn't that bad of an option ;) see you in spring— Kevin Frandsen (@KevinFrandsen) December 8, 2012
Maybe it's because he's done things like set up 19 for Life, a foundation created in memory of Frandsen's older brother DJ, who died at the age of 25 after a 19-year fight with kidney cancer. It funds activities for children coping with serious illness, scholarships for high school athletes who have overcome illness and adversity, and high schoolers in need of financial assistance to compete their high school education.
It's probably some combination of those, plus his awesome—and unfortunately flukey—2012 performance. Whatever the reason, I liked Frandsen enough to throw my support behind him (and Freddy Galvis) for the third base opening last winter, back before the Phillies decided to professionalize their clubhouse in exchange for some live bodies and a bunch of millions of dollars.
Clearly last year's .366 BABIP-fueled slash line of .338/.383/.451 was unsustainable, but I think everyone hoped for perhaps average offensive production out of him in 2013. He does tend to be a line drive hitter and sports a career MiLB BABIP of .319 or so, so it wasn't totally unreasonable to expect him to hit adequately. Alas, it did not happen. His .245 BABIP from this year is perhaps aberrantly low, but regressions and historical trends don't obviate the actual turn of events, and so we were left with a dreary .234/.296/.341 slash line. Coupled with tiny defensive samples at positions he doesn't usually play, Kevin posted a robust 0.5 rWAR and a less robust 0.0 fWAR. Zero war is replacement level. It's not good. On the "bright side," Frandsen's 0.5 rWAR was 6th among all non-pitching Phillies, sandwiched between Ryan Howard's 0.6 and Cliff Lee's 0.4 (only counting Lee's offensive and defensive contributions; not pitching)! Yay? That silver lining is perhaps more depressing than talking about Frandsen's replacement level play, so let's just move on.
You know what Frandsen has that isn't replacement level? His facial hair! He's got a solid plus beard, rated a healthy 60 (on the 20-80 scouting scale) by Crashburn Alley beard scout and TGP b0lg mistress Liz.
Yes, I've been forced to praise his facial hair in lieu of actual on-field baseball activities. That's where we are. Let's not dwell on it.
Looking to next year, it's hard to see Frandsen returning to the Phillies. They've got a logjam of moderate-hitting super-utility IF types in Frandsen, Galvis, and Cesar Hernandez. Both Galvis and Hernandez are significantly younger and cheaper than Frandsen will be, at a projected $1.3 million. Barring some trade sending Galvis or Hernandez elsewhere I'd guess Frandsen is going to be the odd man out. It's possible he is brought back on a minor league deal to be next year's version of Pete Orr, or he might have played himself into a legitimate major league bench role on a team with fewer middle-infield options.
To the fake interview:
Amaro: This season has been an unmitigated disaster. How did you contribute to that disaster?
Frandsen: I had a good beard. Seriously though, I was able to fill in...uh...admirably?...at first, second and third depending on which one of the other guys on the team was busted up at the time. That's worth something, although I never really got into any sort of rhythm at the plate due to my sporadic playing time, some unlucky bounces, and my tendency to foul about 17 balls off of my knees, shins, and ankles for every one I put into play.
Amaro: If I had traded you mid-season, would the team have done better or worse?
Frandsen: Worse. Really, I tried to keep an upbeat atmosphere in the clubhouse and truly appreciated the time I got here. But let's face it, I wasn't a hugely integral cog on this team, and without me we still kind of suck, you know?
Amaro: All of my options are open for next year. Should I trade you, release you, or keep you?
Frandsen: Package Cesar Hernandez, Jessie Biddle, and Mikael Franco into a deal for Stanton. This way the team has an awesome outfield of Dom, Ben "Shoulda Put a Ring on It" Revere, and Stanton, and Freddy and I can serve as your utility IF. A little self-serving, sure, but I think we all benefit, right Rube?
Amaro: Some people have questioned whether I should keep my job. Tell them to go fuck themselves by explaining why I should keep it forever.
Frandsen: Although I think I could have handled the hot corner just as well as the guy who did for most of the year, I also realize that I'm on the brink here and so I'm just going to say that you did a good job in not committing too many dollars to players for too long the past couple off-seasons and have left yourself in a good position to make some moves! Good job, man. Forget those haters! Now do that Cesar for Stanton thing like I said a minute ago and we can ram another WFC up the nose of the naysayers, whaddaya say?!
Amaro: Overall, explain to me how your time with the Philadelphia Phillies has been the highlight of your life.
Frandsen: Listen, I've answered your questions pretty diplomatically, I think, but c'mon. I do owe the Phillies a debt of gratitude as I've played the plurality of my career games with you and have been received well by the city of Philadelphia. So that's something, and, as it turns out, I'm pretty easy to please. I don't know if you've ever checked out my Wiki page when analyzing my background, but if you had you'd have learned that I am known for my love of Easter and that I dye eggs with children all year round.*
P.S. If you want to read a real Q&A with Frandsen CSN Bay Area conducted a short but semi-interesting interview with him back in May.