“Weighing In” on Nick Franklin


As Spring Training gets underway, reports begin to surface regarding certain player’s offseason workouts and changes. You might hear about a guy changing his stance, working on their fielding, or any number of other things. But the main offseason story concerning the Mariners was weight changes, particularly weight gain. Normally those kinds of changes are mentioned once or twice, and are quickly forgotten because they really aren’t all that important.

But this time, it’s different.

The story of Nick Franklin‘s massive weight gain during the offseason is making headlines, and for good reason. This wasn’t your typical 5-10 pound weight fluctuation that 90% of players experience. According to Franklin, he was eating 6,500 calories a day in hopes of reaching the 200 pound mark. Franklin does look noticeably beefier in the pictures I have seen so far from Spring Training.

The original story by Geoff Baker stated that:

"Franklin starts each morning off with a 1,500-calorie breakfast consisting of six scrambled eggs — yolks included — and a high-caloric protein shake.By 10:30 a.m., he’ll have another 500-calorie shake and then throw in a 1,500-calorie lunch by noon. At 2 p.m., there’s another 500-calorie shake, a 250-calorie shake at 3 p.m. and then a 500-calorie shake to “hold me over” until a 1,500-calorie dinner.When he doesn’t have time to cook breakfast, he’ll pop by the local Chick-fil-A. Franklin has already been spotted in the clubhouse here scarfing down chicken sandwiches before team workouts."

That’s a whole lot of eating. Franklin explained that:

"“Last year, during the season, I felt my body starting to collapse on me. At the end of August, I weighed 162 pounds and I was hitting balls to the gap that probably should have been out and they ended up going off the wall. One of them bounced to the wall.“"

He wanted to put on some extra mass and see if he couldn’t turn his warning-track-power into the kind of pop we saw when he hit 23 homers in Single-A.

In that way, it makes sense. He wants to get stronger and more durable, and more muscle mass helps you do that. It is easy to understand, considering he was 160 pounds at the end of the year. For a guy who is over 6 feet tall to only weigh 160 pounds means that he probably isn’t the most well built guy around. Good on him for recognizing what he had to do and doing it.

My main concern is if it was the right thing to do, all things considered. Sure, he is going to be stronger and more durable. That may lead to more home runs and less time missed, and that’s great. The thing is, and I’m no dietitian, but I don’t know that Chick-fil-A and Chipotle are the best options to try to put on lean muscle.

We don’t want to see a chubby, slow Nick Franklin at short stop. And I am not suggesting we will. I am sure he worked with professionals and has all of that figured out. But there is always the chance that he just isn’t built to be a big guy, and that this weight gain could end up hurting him long term. If it was done right with the help of a dietitian or trainer, then that’s awesome, no problems. But if he just went out on his own and said “I am gonna eat tons of calories,” there could be a problem. But I will assume Nick and his coaches had this all worked out.

Regardless of the method though, seeing as we don’t know for sure if this was done right or wrong, there is the issue of his speed and range. Gaining so much weight at a time can make it difficult for the body to adjust and not lose any quickness. There were already concerns about Franklin’s range at short stop, and that’s what makes the weight gain so puzzling. I have a hard time believing gaining 35 pounds will make a guy more light on his feet and mobile in the field.

Feb 19, 2013; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners shortstop Nick Franklin (61) poses for a picture during the Mariners photo day at Peoria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

There are three explanations for this:

  1. People much smarter than you and me don’t think this will affect his speed or range at short at all.
  2. There really aren’t concerns about Franklin’s range at short, and they felt that the reward outweighed any defensive risk involved.
  3. The Mariners are officially moving Franklin off of shortstop, and to a position that he can handle better.

Your guess is as good as mine at this point. It could easily be any of the three. Let’s keep in mind that Franklin isn’t some big Hulk all of the sudden. He is still under 200 pounds. Maybe he is a good enough athlete that the weight won’t hurt his mobility. Maybe he is good enough that a little loss in range is not a big deal when it will be helping his offense at the same time. Or maybe the organization feels that he cannot stick at shortstop in the bigs, and want to start his conversion now.

At this point, I think the most likely scenario is a mix between 1 and 3. The organization may not be too worried about him slowing down, but at the same time are okay with moving him if necessary. I don’t think he is set as a shortstop yet because there has been a lot of talk of him not being able to handle it, but who knows. A high percentage of shortstops in the minors end up being 2nd baseman at the big league level. But the organization wants to milk his time at short for all its worth, and try their best to keep him there. Because as soon as a guy moves from shortstop, their value depreciates substantially. Its like driving a new car off the lot.

We are going to have to wait and see how this thing turns out. Ultimately, I think the weight gain was necessary if he thinks it will help him stay strong throughout the year. I have already almost planned on him moving off short, because of his defense and the emergence of Brad Miller, so I am not too concerned. I am just going to have to trust Nick, his trainers and the organization that this move will not hurt him in the future, because it sounds like Wedge is happy about it and there are no complaints about him going rouge on a chicken sandwich binge.

So what do you all think about the the big change Nick made this offseason? Which of the three options I listed sounds the most likely to you?