New York Mets closer Frank Francisco is not off to the most glorious of starts.

There's no real sugarcoating it. He's been awful.

Through his first 18 games as a Met, Frank Franc has a preposterous 8.04 ERA in 15.2 IP.

While he's striking out a solid 9.19 batters per 9 innings, he's also walked a putrid 5.17 as well.

Now, to be fair, Francisco's had his share of bad luck.

His .396 batting average on balls in play is 100 points higher than his career average, and his 58.2 left on-base percentage is well below his career average of 73.9%.

So what does that mean, exactly? Well it means that Francisco's numbers should stabilize more over time, although let's face it, he's still been pretty bad.

Though his ERA is 8.04, his FIP is a much more manageable 4.31, and his SIERA is 4.04. Still pretty bad, but not 8.04 ERA bad.

He's got a career-high 27.8 line drive percentage, and a very close to career-low 29.6 ground ball percentage, which partially explains that alarming .396 BABIP.

The interesting thing I've noticed, throughout the tumultuous first few months of Francisco's Mets career, is so many fans comparing him to former Met closer Armando Benitez.

At first glance, it's easy to see why. They both hail from the Dominican Republic, and they both have similar physical builds. They also have blown saves before.

But Mets fans seem to only remember and dwell on the bad times with Benitez, some of the unfortunate blown saves he suffered at times in his five-year Mets career.

Believe it or not, in 347 innings over 333 games in a Mets uniform, Benitez was pretty damn good. He had a 2.70 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and a 150 ERA+ in that span.

He averaged a sterling 11.8 K/9 as a Met, with a solid 2.71 K/BB ratio. In 1999 he had a superb 241 ERA+, with a 1.85 ERA and 1.04 WHIP that year.

In fact, combined over 1999 and 2000, Benitez posted a 2.22 ERA over 154 innings, saving 63 games in 74 chances with a 1.03 WHIP and 201 ERA+.

Of course, it wasn't all sunshine and roses with Armando Benitez, but it was a hell of a lot better than anything Frank Francisco's done in his MLB career, not to mention with the Mets.

Mets fans: stop comparing Frank Francisco to Armando Benitez. Francisco is not Benitez, and he never will be.

You, me and everyone we know would sign up for another Benitez in a New York minute. Closers are always a fickle bunch, but Benitez was pretty damn good, no matter how we remember it.

Did he have his flaws? Of course. But more often than not, he got the job done.

In "high leverage" spots in his 15-year MLB career, Benitez held batters to a .189 batting average and .628 OPS. Not exactly the crappy closer everyone seems to remember him as.

Bottom line: Armando Benitez deserves more respect. A hell of a lot more respect than being compared to the unimpressive Frank Francisco.

 

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