Wander's on-base streak 1 shy of Mantle
ST. PETERSBURG -- Wander Franco extended his historic on-base streak to 35 games on Sunday, when the Rays’ switch-hitting rookie shortstop skied a double to deep left-center field in the seventh inning of a 6-5 loss to the Twins at Tropicana Field.
Franco's streak is the third longest by a player 20 years old or younger in American League/National League history, behind Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle (36 games, from 1951-52) and Frank Robinson (43 in 1956). If he reaches safely in his next game, he’ll match Mantle for the longest on-base streak by a player under 21 in AL history.
Yes, Franco knows the names he’s chasing on that list. And he knows what it means to be included among their ranks in any context.
“I probably wasn't born for them. I know who they are,” Franco said Sunday morning through interpreter Manny Navarro. “They're legends, and they're some of the best players and All-Stars that have played this game.”
Regardless of age, Franco’s streak is the longest by a rookie shortstop since Hanley Ramirez reached in 36 straight games for the Marlins in 2006. It is also the longest active on-base streak in the Majors, the longest by a rookie in club history and the longest single-season streak by a Rays player since Johnny Damon reached in 39 consecutive games from May 3-June 14, 2011. It is the third-longest single-season on-base streak in team history overall, behind Damon in 2011 and Ben Grieve (37) from April 18-May 30, 2001.
Another one of Franco’s impressive streaks ended Sunday afternoon, however. After going 41 consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout, he went down swinging against Twins starter Griffin Jax in the fifth inning. He immediately bounced back with a double in his next plate appearance and an infield single in the ninth.
Franco has struck out only three times in his last 85 plate appearances, however, and he hasn't gone a full game without reaching safely since taking an 0-for-5 against Cleveland on July 24 at Progressive Field.
“My job is just to make contact,” Franco said before Sunday’s series finale. “As long as I can do that, I think everything else just kind of plays out.”