Nick Franklin’s Weight Gain Deserves Questions and Skepticism

The Mariners equipment staff may be busy this year letting out Franklin’s pants and jersey.

Maybe it is the time that we live in, and the way that baseball is now, but when I heard that Nick Franklin had added 34 lbs this offseason, my mind went to the worst place. Tell me how many times you’ve heard this before:

“______ gained some 30 lbs of muscle this offseason.”

“______ has shown up on a list of customers for some pharmacy front.”

“______ has tested positive for a banned substance and it suspended for 50 games.”

“______ denies using any banned substance.”

“______ has dropped their appeal, and will serve their 50 game suspension.”

I don’t want to be that guy, and I don’t want to accuse anyone of using a banned substance without anything more than empirical evidence, but the past 10 years have taught us to be skeptical.

Here’s part of a post from Bodybuilding.com, a reputed website that follows a sport similarly wrought with performance enhancing drugs:

Frequently, it’s a beginner who testifies to the astounding feat of gaining 30 pounds over a period of several months.

This is, no doubt, a great achievement but most have been fooled into believing that a large percentage is muscle when most of it is due to an increase in glycogen stores, body fat and water.

That’s 30 lbs, and a big chunk of that wouldn’t be functional weight or lean muscle mass. It would seem that Franklin’s weight gain may be from one of two things, an outside substance, or maybe worse, the effects of a 6,500 calorie diet.

Another excerpt from the same post:

The Colgan Institute of Nutritional Sciences (located in San Diego, CA) run by Dr Michael Colgan PHD, a leading sport nutritionist explains that in his extensive experience, the most muscle gain he or any of his colleagues have recorded over a year was 18 1/4 lbs. Dr Colgan goes on to state that “because of the limiting rate of turnover in the muscle cells it is impossible to grow more than an ounce of new muscle each day.”

Of course, Franklin is barely shy of 22 years old. A lot of men gain weight through their early 20s as their bodies mature. Some of Franklin’s weight gain may be attributed to that.

But it’s also possible that this could be the last we see of Franklin at shortstop, more on that from MLB Prospect Watch:

Franklin has handled shortstop just fine throughout his career, but as Baseball America said, “his range, hands and arm are all average.”  No matter how much he worked on his agility this off-season and gained weight the proper way, it’s virtually impossible for him to maintain the same range and agility with an extra 35 pounds on his frame.  For Franklin, even a slight drop in range at shortstop could be enough to make his move to second base permanent.

Which, if he hits for more power, would be a fine trade off for the Mariners.

And that’s the thing. Right now the Mariners have two shortstop prospects close to the majors that have a chance to play the position long-term. If Franklin drops off that list then a lot rides on the much less bulky shoulders of Brad Miller. I like Miller a lot, but I like options also.

There’s certainly positives with regards to Franklin’s increase in weight, and presumably strength. But it’s not all good. And it may be really bad. Adding 34 lbs with the assistance of a banned substance is bad, adding it with the assistance of Funyuns and chocolate milkshakes–which would mean mostly fat based on the evidence at hand–may be worse.

  • baseballallday

    I question your doubts. Franklin is positively transparent about his workout – he’s smart by surrounding himself with trainers, agent, and mariners staff to monitor his weight gain. But, if he didn’t share this with the world, then you wouldn’t have anything to write about.

    • CaseyMcLain

      My doubts are backed by evidence. Your gut may disagree but he’d be a solitary genetic outlier if everything added up.

  • RenoDiligence

    Perhaps you are right Casey maybe it’s the time we live where it is Easy to be common. Easy to be skeptical and sucked in. Easy to be assuming without validity.

    Nonetheless, I found your tab to be humorous. Not wanting to be the guy without empirical evidence and then shamelessly diving head first into the lane of assumption. Speculations and suggestions of banned substances or illegal activity.

    Perhaps you should stick to you other hobbies because this brew is real bad, bitter, and without substance.

    • http://twitter.com/CaseyMcLain34 Casey McLain

      Incorrect, I said that all I HAVE is empirical evidence.

      Also, bitter beer is better. Drink better beer!

  • http://baseballblaze.com/ Josh Gibbs

    I read an article about this in the Seattle Times and my mind immediately screamed “Steroids!” I would be surprised if he did use steroids, because I think that Franklin and his trainers are overestimating the percentage of weight gain that is actually muscle. In the article they said they were making sure that his extra bulk doesn’t get in the way of his agility, which might allow him to stay at shortstop. 6’1″ and 200 pounds isn’t overly huge for an MLB player. I bet over the season he drops considerable weight.

    • http://twitter.com/CaseyMcLain34 Casey McLain

      It has to hurt his chances to play SS, which lowers his value defensively.

      • RenoDiligence

        The article says Franklin weighs 196. Brendan Ryan is listed on the M’s roster at 195 and he is 31 years old. Are you that naive to think a player 10 years younger can’t play at that weight? Or are your simply making the assertion based on the weight gain while dismissing any possible gains in strength.
        Speaking of value. What is the value of a SS who can’t hit his weight (.194)

      • http://twitter.com/CaseyMcLain34 Casey McLain

        He’s a borderline SS as is. I’m not naive. Heavier things are harder to move. Franklin’s on the border of not having enough range to play SS. His weight gain outpaced possible natural gains of muscle by three fold. I didn’t say he can’t play SS, I said that it has to hurt his chances.

        And to answer your question… A SS who can’t hit his weight is worth more than the same guy playing equally well at 3B or 2B.

        I understand discontent with Brendan Ryan. I’d say that his offense is unfairly judged against league mean, and not the mean of his position, and in the case of Seattle fans it seems like it’s judged against Carlos Guillen and Alex Rodriguez, both of whom were fantastic hitting shortstops. I also recognize that advanced defensive metrics aren’t perfect. Brendan Ryan has been worth 4.5 WAR in his time with Seattle, worth just over $20 million on the free market, and he’s been paid $2.75 million.

        There’s no doubt that the team is punting offense at the position by keeping him there, and he may become so bad that his bad offense outweighs his phenomenal defense. That hasn’t happened so far.

        How that relates to Nick Franklin gaining weight is beyond me, though.