All-Time Indians: Julio Franco

 

Name: Julio Cesar Robles Franco   Position: Short Stop, 1B      
                Number: 14, 23          
Tribe Time: 1983-88, 1996-97         DOB: 08/23/1958      
Accolades: 1988 Silver Slugger, 2nd Place Rookie of the Year (1983), Top 25 MVP (1988)    
Stats G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS SB% OBP SLG AVG OPS ISOP
Best Season (1985) 160 636 97 183 33 4 6 90 242 54 68 13 10 57% .331 .381 .288 .712 .093
Career 1088 4282 619 1272 189 33 62 530 1713 368 543 147 71 67% .352 .400 .297 .752 .103

Franco is famous for being one of the oldest players in baseball history, extending his career until he was almost 50, playing with National League teams as a pinch hitter, but many years earlier, Franco started his career as a young short stop with the Cleveland Indians. After his 1982 season with the Phillies, Franco was sent to Cleveland as part of the Von Hayes trade (a five-for-one deal that saw the Indians pick up a slew of players for the future All-Star). 

Franco ended up being an impressive hitter for a very bad Indians team, knocking more than 180 hits four of his last five seasons with the team. As his career progressed with Cleveland, Franco started his trek around the diamond as he was transitioned from short to second from 1985 through 1987. In 1988 he was traded to Texas for three young players and moved to second base. 

By 1996, when Julio returned to Cleveland as a free agent, he had lost most of his speed and became a designated hitter or first basemen. He played two more years splitting time between those two positions before leaving Cleveland for the last time in 1997. 

In his career with the Tribe, Franco played more than 1,000 games, almost half of his amazing 23 year career. Most impressive was his flexibility, changing from a free swinging, speed infielder to a more on base oriented corner infielder and pinch hitter. His time with the Indians showed both extremes as he lead the team, stealing 32 bases twice during his first time with the team and raising his OBP to over .400 for the first time as an Indian in 1996 during his second round.

After being released mid-season in 1997, Franco spent most of the next three years away from Major League baseball, but was far from done as he came back in 2001 and played more than 600 more games after reaching the age of 40. Julio Franco retired for good in 2007 at the age of 48 (disputed). His name first appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2013.

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona.

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