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Monday, March 03, 2008

Rosenthal: Q&A with Jeff Francoeur

Lithium polymer batteries intact…Robo-Go.

Q: Why did you put on the weight?

A: Home runs. To be able to drive the ball. I think I’ve given up on the idea that I’m going to steal 30 or 40 bags a year. I’m really looking to put my last two seasons together and have a big year this year. I don’t think there’s any reason I can’t.

I made huge strides offensively last year in (plate) discipline. Talking to Glav (Tom Glavine), we were playing golf down here, he just said how differently the Mets pitched me in the last two years. Compared to 2006, last year they said, “We’ve got to start throwing him strikes. We’ve got to pitch him. We just can’t throw it up there.”

For me, that’s good. I’m making pitchers think more, forcing them to throw strikes. I don’t think there’s any reason I shouldn’t hit 30 to 35 home runs.

Q: How much are you still focused on improving your plate discipline?

A: My goal has been to go 10 or 15 walks up in the next two or three years, every year. Last year, I had 42 (up from 23 in ‘06). This year, I want to get to about 60 or so and keep moving up. I would love to walk about 80 times a year. I know I’m too aggressive to get into the 100 range. But to be able to do that would be something that would be big for me. And that’s when I will be able to hit .310, that kind of average.

Repoz Posted: March 03, 2008 at 06:16 PM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. dcsmyth1 Posted: March 03, 2008 at 07:20 PM (#2705015)
It's certainly good that he recognizes the value of a walk, and doesn't just say, "if I wanted to walk I would've become a mailman". He implies that his discipline is improving, and that's why his BB increased.

But here is the percentage of pitches outside the strike zone that were taken for a ball by Francouer. The lg avg is around 72%.
2007, 63.3
2006, 62.5
2005, 65.0

No improvement at all. So why did he draw more BBs in 2007? Could it be that, despite Glavine's comment, they are throwing more, not fewer, bad pitches? Here is the percentage of all pitches thrown to Francouer that were outside the strike zone. I believe the lg avg is 50%.
2007, 53.1
2006, 50.7
2005, 45.6
   2. CFBF Rides The Zombie Ice Dragon Posted: March 03, 2008 at 07:37 PM (#2705042)
A: It was great the other day listening to Chipper (Jones). We were talking while we were all stretching. He said, "Don't get me wrong, they've had some good years. But come talk when you've won 14 in a row."

I love Chipper. He's one of my favorite players in the whole wide world. But I think Chip's got the early lead in the race to see which current star will become the curmudgeonly Bob Feller figure in 50 years.
   3. Honkie Kong Posted: March 03, 2008 at 07:44 PM (#2705045)
Interesting take on the steroid issues, and also the consecutive game record. I am of the opinion that his hitting really goes down the drain sometime in late July/Aug because of the tiredness factor. I hope Bobby atleast pulls him early sometime.

And more HRs?! this is not going to end well.
   4. Craig Calcaterra Posted: March 03, 2008 at 07:50 PM (#2705054)
Looking at his splits, he tends to start well, swoon in June, and rebounds a bit later in the season. September/October is is second worse OPS month, but it's a lot closer to other months than his worst month is to September/October.
   5. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 03, 2008 at 07:51 PM (#2705055)
why did he draw more BBs in 2007? Could it be that, despite Glavine's comment, they are throwing more, not fewer, bad pitches?


Francouer's overall percentage of pitches at which he swung DID go down last year - from 61% to 56% - and he took more strikes last year than he had in years past. However, his in-play percentages went from .284/.357 to .337/.417 (BA/SLG) - an indicator that when he made contact he was hitting the ball harder. That could, and probably does, explain why pitchers were inclined to throw more pitches out of the strike zone; Francouer was punishing pitches that WERE in the zone.

The mark for Francouer this year will be the extent to which he can force pitchers to come in more; can he actually lay off more of those pitches that are outside the zone, without becoming overly tentative and still attacking those pitches that ARE in the zone? I think his comment indicates that he knows there's still work to do.

-- MWE
   6. dcsmyth1 Posted: March 03, 2008 at 08:21 PM (#2705084)
-------"The mark for Francouer this year will be the extent to which he can force pitchers to come in more; can he actually lay off more of those pitches that are outside the zone, without becoming overly tentative and still attacking those pitches that ARE in the zone? I think his comment indicates that he knows there's still work to do."
____________

Here then is the % of pitches in the strike zone that Francoeur swung at. The lg avg is around 66%.
2007, 79.9
2006, 86.1
2005, 82.4

The problem is that, while it's good to swing at hittable strikes instead of taking the pitch for a called strike, the most 'bang for the buck', by far, is gained by laying off bad pitches. So, if Francoeur does improve in that area, it should easily outweigh any increased hesitation on good pitches.
   7. flournoy Posted: March 03, 2008 at 08:49 PM (#2705108)
I'm kind of confused by what you're saying, but do you mean to say that all strikes are good pitches to hit, and all balls are bad ones? Most balls are indeed bad pitches to hit, but a lot of strikes are, too. There's a lot of value to be gained by laying off strikes that you'd otherwise pop up or hit weakly on the ground.
   8. Ignatius J. Reilly Posted: March 03, 2008 at 09:05 PM (#2705118)
Chipper should be the heir apparent to Cox. I'd much prefer him to Pendleton.

What was the quote he had early in spring training? After watching Francoeur pull a bunch of BP fastballs over the left field fence, he said something to the effect of, "Lose an Andruw, gain an Andruw..."

That cracked me up. The man knows hitting.
   9. Srul Itza Posted: March 03, 2008 at 09:25 PM (#2705141)
Seventeen pounds heavier, thanks to his off-season work at a camp that prepares college football players for the NFL scouting combine.

Seventeen pounds of muscle in one off-season?

Hope he cycled off in time.
   10. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 03, 2008 at 09:32 PM (#2705148)
So, if Francoeur does improve in that area, it should easily outweigh any increased hesitation on good pitches.


Not if the increased hesitation on good pitches keeps him from making solid contact on them. The tradeoff then becomes more walks, but fewer hits and decreased extra-base power - and that is rarely a good tradeoff.

-- MWE
   11. dcsmyth1 Posted: March 03, 2008 at 10:40 PM (#2705198)
Not if the increased hesitation on good pitches keeps him from making solid contact on them. The tradeoff then becomes more walks, but fewer hits and decreased extra-base power - and that is rarely a good tradeoff.


Hesitation is a poor word choice. I simply meant that a batter who is pickier on balls out of the zone, also tends to be pickier on balls inside the zone. So, he is "taking" more of these pitches. It doesn't imply that he is taking a 'hesitant' sort of swing when he decides to swing.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: March 04, 2008 at 05:48 AM (#2705387)
However, his in-play percentages went from .284/.357 to .337/.417 (BA/SLG) - an indicator that when he made contact he was hitting the ball harder.

Well, yes and no. I'm not sure his "in-play" numbers are the right ones to use here (or the ones pitchers would pay attention to). That is, his in-play numbers were up but his HR-rate was down substantially. So for 2006-2007, his on-contact numbers were:

325/563
366/556

So yes, he was getting more hits but he was getting fewer extra-base hits (HRs really). There's not much point in pitching around a guy to keep him from getting a single, you pitch around him to avoid a HR.

As to measuring how hard someone hits the ball (separate from the issue of Francoeur), I can't fathom any reason to remove HRs from the equation.

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