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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dutton: Can Jeff Francoeur recover from a tough season?

I hate when a non-Kansas City Star newspaper can’t spell career.

Francoeur is vowing a big comeback year after sabermetricians - and fans - dubbed him the worst everyday player in baseball.

“The thing that keeps me positive is I know I’ve had good years,” he said. “I’ve hit 30 home runs. I’ve driven in 100 runs. I’ve hit .290. I know I can do it. It’s a matter, for me, of being able to be consistent.

“I’m at that age, 29, where I should be getting into my prime. Not going the other way. That has fueled me and driven me a lot this off season, and it’s been a good drive.”

... Francoeur again tinkered with his swing in the off season. One benefit of his new workout approach, he believes, is it enables him to use a heavier bat, which he contends will aid in maintaining a more-direct swing.

“I’m using a 35-33 now,” he said, “up from a 34-311/2. I’ve jumped up quite a bit, but I feel like it’s helped me not wrap it back there (around the head) and making me long to the ball.

“Now, I’m just going straight back instead of turning. I think these are little things, but I’m a repetition guy. Billy (Butler) can just roll out of bed and hit. I need the repetition. I need to feel it. So every day, I need to do the same thing.

“That’s why you watch Gordo, and he’s the perfect guy. He’s the same guy every day, and I’ve got on that plan. I feel he’s going to make me a lot better baseball player.”

Francoeur is, traditionally, a slow starter in spring games, but he is putting a priority this spring on reversing that trend as the Royals move through the early days of their Cactus League schedule.

“I’m coming out raking,” he vowed. “No doubt. Now, I might hit .100 this spring, but I’ll be ready. Here’s the deal: I heard Lance Berkman say that his best year was a year when he hit .400 in spring and carried it over into the season.

“I’m so excited to get out there and see where I’m at and put together a good year. This is the first year I can’t wait for spring games. The best way to erase bad memories is to get out there and play.”

Repoz Posted: February 23, 2013 at 08:56 PM | 43 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: royals

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   1. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: February 23, 2013 at 10:13 PM (#4374989)
Francoeur is vowing a big comeback year after sabermetricians - and fans - dubbed him the worst everyday player in baseball.
Sabermatricians aren't fans?
   2. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: February 23, 2013 at 10:18 PM (#4374990)
Did anyone have Feb. 23 on the first Frenchy article of the spring? Remember how we looked forward to them?
   3. flournoy Posted: February 23, 2013 at 10:19 PM (#4374991)
This article could have been copied almost verbatim from any number of AJC articles of years past.
   4. akrasian Posted: February 23, 2013 at 10:35 PM (#4374997)
“I’m at that age, 29, where I should be getting into my prime. Not going the other way.

Since when is 29 getting into one's prime in baseball? I would have said that was more when marginal starters start losing much of their playing time.
   5. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 23, 2013 at 10:37 PM (#4374999)
Since when is 29 getting into one's prime in baseball?


28-29 has always been assumed peak production, since Bill James did the first study on the question.
   6. AJMcCringleberry Posted: February 23, 2013 at 10:38 PM (#4375000)
Which season?
   7.  Hey Gurl Posted: February 23, 2013 at 11:05 PM (#4375004)
Dutton: Can Jeff Francoeur recover from a tough season?


Has he gone to a new team?
   8. akrasian Posted: February 23, 2013 at 11:12 PM (#4375009)
#5 - I thought it was 26-28. In any case, 29 is not "getting into my prime". At best that is the normal tail end of baseball prime. There are exceptions, of course, but they aren't that common for position players who have had a number of healthy major league seasons already.
   9. Dan Posted: February 23, 2013 at 11:18 PM (#4375010)
“The thing that keeps me positive is I know I’ve had good years,” he said. “I’ve hit 30 home runs. I’ve driven in 100 runs. I’ve hit .290. I know I can do it. It’s a matter, for me, of being able to be consistent.


You have? When was this?
   10. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 23, 2013 at 11:20 PM (#4375012)
Francoeur is vowing a big comeback year after sabermetricians - and fans - dubbed him the worst everyday player in baseball.

Sabermatricians aren't fans?


If you love numbers, you can't love people. Or something. I do know plenty of people who hold the bizarre notion that studying something is antithetical to enjoying it.

Years ago it was clear that Frenchy could be a productive part-timer as a 4th or 5th OFer getting 200 PAs per season. I suppose it makes sense that the teams that would consider him a full time player are among the worst run.
   11. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 23, 2013 at 11:27 PM (#4375014)
The Royals are prone to this sort of situation. It's kind of like the "winner's curse". By having a player that other teams might not use at all, and giving him playing time, they find out that he's actually pretty good. But because they value him more than other teams, they give him too much playing time and he does not actually help the team.

e.g. everyday starters Aaron Guiel and Mike Aviles and Mitch Maier and Ross Gload ... the supposedly washed-up Jason Kendall who might have not been totally washed-up, but certainly should not have started 118 games in 2010 ... David DeJesus being cast in the role of "perennial All-Star candidate"...
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 24, 2013 at 12:50 AM (#4375029)
So, best shape of his life?
   13. Walt Davis Posted: February 24, 2013 at 01:02 AM (#4375030)
Sabermatricians aren't fans?

Oh you know what he means -- not only was it the stat geeks with their "hey, his context-neutral hitting absolutely stinks for a RF and his defense doesn't make up for it", this time around even the (regular) fans noticed. In short he's saying "I'm tired of hearing from regular fans when I quote the stat geeks and I'm tired of hearing from the stat geeks when I disagree with them so I'm going to start with the assumption that everybody agrees with me."

Frenchy is a nice example of how offensive contexts differ ... and how useless the old style sim scores can often be (really, b-r should just retire these, they probably provide more embarrassment than insight at this point). Anyway, Frenchy has a career 94 OPS+ and his age 28 comps are mostly 70s-80s players. Those comps averaged a 112 OPS+. Frenchy has hit 266/310/426 and Lance Parrish shows up as a comp at a nearly identicaly 263/314/424 but that was good for a 104 OPS+ back then.

   14. Dan Posted: February 24, 2013 at 02:31 AM (#4375048)
Frenchy is a nice example of how offensive contexts differ ... and how useless the old style sim scores can often be (really, b-r should just retire these, they probably provide more embarrassment than insight at this point). Anyway, Frenchy has a career 94 OPS+ and his age 28 comps are mostly 70s-80s players. Those comps averaged a 112 OPS+. Frenchy has hit 266/310/426 and Lance Parrish shows up as a comp at a nearly identicaly 263/314/424 but that was good for a 104 OPS+ back then.


I'm definitely in agreement with Walt on this. The sim scores can be fun, and even might have been useful when first designed, but in their present state they're simply misused constantly and their existence does bb-ref a disservice at this point,
   15. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 24, 2013 at 02:40 AM (#4375051)
“The thing that keeps me positive is I know I’ve had good years,” he said. “I’ve hit 30 home runs.


It's funny because I didn't think he'd hit 30 home runs, and, unless b-r is wrong, the last time he hit 30 home runs was never.

Unless he did so in college or HS.
   16. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 24, 2013 at 02:54 AM (#4375053)
He is a below average hitter - sometimes very bad - who every now and again lucks into a 120 OPS+, which is his upside.

He reminds me of Tony Armas, although Armas is not on his list of comps.

6.6 WAR in 8 years and 4700 PA. He's a backup OF, a platoon OF at best. Any team that starts him against RHP is very misguided. He has a .700 career OPS vs. righties. And even vs lefties, you'd want better than an .820 career OPS vs lefties from a platoon corner OF. But at the very least, his teams need to focus on what he _can_ do, and not allow him to do what he can't. If he complains, release him.
   17. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 24, 2013 at 03:24 AM (#4375056)
@15: Ah, your mistake is a common one. You thought he meant 30 home runs in a "season". That shows what you and your hidebound "statistics" are good for.

@16: Would most platoon guys have a better than .820 career OPS v lefties? Not starters' platoon splits, but platoon guys--4th and 5th OFers, mostly.

@13: The odd thing is that sim scores really are obviously that awful on BBRef, and they can't be that difficult to improve. Perhaps the code is old and obscure, and the people who bought the site from Sean can't be bothered?
   18. Swedish Chef Posted: February 24, 2013 at 05:50 AM (#4375064)
Sabermatricians aren't fans?

"What the hell does he mean with with "friends, Romans, countrymen"? Is he implying that his friends aren't Roman? The bastard!"

So he wanted to say that not only the number-crunchers grasped how bad Frenchy was. It seems a very reasonable way to formulate it.

   19. AJMcCringleberry Posted: February 24, 2013 at 09:28 AM (#4375073)
I got curious at how much of a difference there was when he starts with a team vs. the rest of the time...

First season with team: .297/.334/.498
Rest of career: .254/.300/.399

The Royals should just change their uniforms this year.
   20. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: February 24, 2013 at 09:38 AM (#4375076)
I know mocking Francoeur is a BTF pastime but is there that big a difference between 29 and 30 homers?
   21. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: February 24, 2013 at 10:17 AM (#4375085)
20...it's a 3.4% difference.
   22. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 24, 2013 at 10:36 AM (#4375092)
I know mocking Francoeur is a BTF pastime but is there that big a difference between 29 and 30 homers?


Who said it was "that big a difference"? I noted that it wasn't correct.
   23. DanG Posted: February 24, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4375094)
is there that big a difference between 29 and 30 homers?
Probably hit one in spring training that year.
   24. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 24, 2013 at 11:46 AM (#4375120)
Francoeur punching is pretty damned boring at this point. He's not good. He thinks he's better than he is, which means he's a professional athlete who requires confidence to do his job. He thinks he's going to put it together this season, which means he's a professional baseball player going into spring training anew. He gets overpaid and oversold by his management for being personable and having the good face, which means he's probably a Royal.
   25. Rough Carrigan Posted: February 24, 2013 at 12:54 PM (#4375155)
I remember the first time I saw him bat as a Brave. I don't think I've ever seen a player who looked so hyper, not in a fidgety way, but so impulsively over aggressive. Has the guy ever tried some kind of ritalin or ritalout whichever would calm down an adult?
   26. cardsfanboy Posted: February 24, 2013 at 01:04 PM (#4375160)
@13: The odd thing is that sim scores really are obviously that awful on BBRef, and they can't be that difficult to improve. Perhaps the code is old and obscure, and the people who bought the site from Sean can't be bothered?


The problem is with people having a problem with them. They do what they are designed to do, show comparable careers to other players, regardless of park, era or league. That is EXACTLY what they are designed to do. You can come up with another sim score that is designed to show player comparisons based upon park adjusted and era numbers, but it's an entirely different animal. I would support that, but not at the expense of removing the sim scores.
   27. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: February 24, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4375161)
The Royals are prone to this sort of situation. It's kind of like the "winner's curse". By having a player that other teams might not use at all, and giving him playing time, they find out that he's actually pretty good. But because they value him more than other teams, they give him too much playing time and he does not actually help the team.

e.g. everyday starters Aaron Guiel and Mike Aviles and Mitch Maier and Ross Gload ... the supposedly washed-up Jason Kendall who might have not been totally washed-up, but certainly should not have started 118 games in 2010 ... David DeJesus being cast in the role of "perennial All-Star candidate"...

I wouldn't say that DeJesus fits in that group. He was a pretty good centerfielder for 3 or 4 years. Of course, the Royals were constantly talking about moving him to a corner or trading him so the quality of his play may have escaped notice.
   28. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 24, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4375168)
It's completely plausible that Francoeur has hit 30 home runs.
   29. Brian White Posted: February 24, 2013 at 01:20 PM (#4375177)
Probably hit one in spring training that year.


He hit 31 regular season home runs in one calendar year. He hit 29 in 2006, the first of which came on April 13. Then he hit one on April 6, 2007, and another on April 10, 2007. Maybe that's what he meant.
   30. depletion Posted: February 24, 2013 at 01:51 PM (#4375206)
If you love numbers, you can't love people.

You will be remembered not by how much you have loved other people, but by how much other people have loved you. - The Wizard of Oz -

Are these true?
   31. Walt Davis Posted: February 24, 2013 at 04:30 PM (#4375271)
They do what they are designed to do, show comparable careers to other players, regardless of park, era or league.

I wasn't suggesting the computer algorithm didn't work, I was noting it is a deeply flawed concept. So, pray tell, what is the usefulness of sim scores?

Jay Bruce's #1 comp the last two seasons? Reggie Jackson of course. His #8 most similar player? Barry Bonds. Also on his list is the young Darryl Strawberry. At #9? Boog Powell who is pretty much not similar to anybody on this list.

I don't care. But they are an embarrassment for b-r at this point, especially to have them on the player's main page.

   32. Greg K Posted: February 24, 2013 at 04:43 PM (#4375274)
What I'd be interested in isn't so much value similarity scores as style similarity scores. Players grouped together with things like % value from base-running, % value from fielding, % value from power, % value from walks, % value from batting average, strikeout and walk ratios, etc.
   33. PreservedFish Posted: February 24, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4375294)
But they are an embarrassment for b-r at this point, especially to have them on the player's main page.


Agreed, and it seems like they could be improved pretty easily too.
   34. Guapo Posted: February 24, 2013 at 05:45 PM (#4375300)
Francoeur Spring 2008

Francoeur Spring 2009

Francoeur Spring 2010

Francoeur Spring 2011

Sadly, I couldn't find a Francoeur story from Spring 2012. I'll keep looking.
   35. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 24, 2013 at 08:02 PM (#4375363)
First season with team: .297/.334/.498
Rest of career: .254/.300/.399


I don't have the patience to break his seasons down by month, but iirc this may be true for Franky's Aprils, too. He's always talking about learning patience in the spring, waiting for his pitch, and all the other stuff you know he doesn't believe; then it seems like after taking a few walks and changing his game, he goes back to being the 'rest of career' bonehead we all treasure. Pretty sure that's what he did with the Mets, too.

Edit: BBRef has that function, too, by god. His Aprils are good, but August and September are just as good, though those are the two months where his BABIPs are inflated vis a vis the rest of his career. There's probably enough of a sample size to tell us he probably is a different hitter in April. He does K a lot less in April than in any other month...

Fwiw.
   36. Good cripple hitter Posted: February 24, 2013 at 08:54 PM (#4375388)
Francoeur Spring 2008

Francoeur Spring 2009

Francoeur Spring 2010

Francoeur Spring 2011

Sadly, I couldn't find a Francoeur story from Spring 2012. I'll keep looking.


Why go through the trouble of looking for Francoeur stories when you can just go to The BBTF Francoeur Archives™? (scroll down to post 31)

Granted, I haven't updated it (thank goodness), but it's the first stop for all your Francoeur snark!
   37. SoSH U at work Posted: February 24, 2013 at 09:33 PM (#4375397)
Sadly, I couldn't find a Francoeur story from Spring 2012. I'll keep looking.


At BTF, Frenchy's not as interesting (or snark friendly) when he's been playing well, as he had in the preceding season.
   38. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: February 25, 2013 at 01:37 PM (#4375674)
   39. Ron J2 Posted: February 25, 2013 at 03:23 PM (#4375768)
#5 Offensive peak seasons go (roughly) 27-26-28-25-24-29. But 29 year olds aren't in obvious decline as a general rule.
   40. smileyy Posted: February 25, 2013 at 04:30 PM (#4375810)
How many marginal players hot starts to careers and seasons come down to pitchers asking "Can he (still) catch up to my fastball / less-good-stuff?" and finding out that the answer is "Yep."
   41. Ron J2 Posted: February 25, 2013 at 04:42 PM (#4375823)
#40 There's an old Billy Williams quote:

When he was asked the secret of his success as a hitter, he said, "When the pitcher hangs a curve ball, hit it. The difference between a good hitter and an average hitter is just 20-30 hits a year. You hit those thirty hangers, you'll be up there in the paper."

Sort of what you're suggesting. That he might see more than his fair share of hangers (or other B type or worse stuff) early on.
   42. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 26, 2013 at 03:55 AM (#4376121)
@41: that scene towards the end of Bull Durham still plays well, where Costner is trying to get it to register with Nuke how trivial the difference is between a life in the minors, and starring in Yankee Stadium, that difference being one seeing-eye grounder a week.

What's also fascinating is that there are a whole lot of guys making twenty million dollars more over their careers because one dink or flair drops in every two weeks, the difference between a AAAA guy and a fringey starter.
   43. bigglou115 Posted: February 26, 2013 at 04:09 AM (#4376123)
I would buy that Francoeur is just a better hitter early in the season, or even late. He's always been a guy with the physical tools to play, he just has a terrible approach. As bad as his approach is it seems probable that even small gains would lead to disproportionate results. He lays off on extra pitch an AB in April that's probably good for an extra BB or two, a couple extra hits, maybe a HR. at this point he's clearly never going to figure it out, but he's always been a guy who can hit a hittable pitch.

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