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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Royals designate outfielder Jeff Francoeur for assignment

You call that love in French but it’s just Frenchynyet.

The Royals have designated outfielder Jeff Francoeur for assignment. Infielder Johnny Giavotella has been recalled from Triple-A to fill the roster spot.

Francoeur, 29, has been with the Royals since 2011. He has hit .209/.250/.324 (57 OPS+) with three home runs in 58 games this year, and .254/.301/.414 (95 OPS+) with 39 homers in 359 total games with Kansas City. He has also played for the Braves, Mets and Rangers.

The Royals signed Francoeur to a two-year, $13.5 million contract extension prior to last season. He will earn $7.5 million total this year—Kansas City is still on the hook for that money unless another team claims him off waivers, which is unlikely—and was due to become a free agent this winter.

Repoz Posted: June 29, 2013 at 08:46 PM | 70 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: royals

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   1. TJ Posted: June 29, 2013 at 08:59 PM (#4481040)
Say hello to your newest New York Yankee, Jeff Francoeur!
   2. Deaf Jeaf Posted: June 29, 2013 at 09:19 PM (#4481054)
That'd be awesome. Until he hit 20 home runs in the second half.
   3. Rennie's Tenet Posted: June 29, 2013 at 09:31 PM (#4481065)
A career .327 average in his first 30 games with a new team. Go get him!
   4. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: June 29, 2013 at 09:41 PM (#4481068)
Oh, Royals.

They started Francouer twice as often against righties as they did against lefties. Who the #### is in charge over there?
   5. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 29, 2013 at 09:58 PM (#4481073)
Say hello to your newest New York Yankee, Jeff Francoeur!

I have to admit, the Yankees are so depleted by injury that I had to take a moment to consider whether Francoeur, who I don't really keep track of, might help. Nope.
   6. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 29, 2013 at 10:06 PM (#4481078)
It's a small step forward for the Royals that they can acknowledge that Frenchy is done, even if they owe him money.
   7. Brian White Posted: June 29, 2013 at 11:25 PM (#4481107)
Say hello to your newest New York Yankee, Jeff Francoeur!


Oh, man, that is totally going to happen, isn't it? They're going to sign him, and he's going to hit .380/.382/.750 the rest of the way with a dozen outfield assists. It'll be awful.
   8. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: June 29, 2013 at 11:38 PM (#4481113)
I laughed pretty hard at Rany tweeting "And I thought the Royals forgot my birthday", presumably in reference to this and Giavotella being called up.
   9. The elusive Robert Denby Posted: June 29, 2013 at 11:54 PM (#4481117)
And somewhere in Minneapolis, Rex Hudler cries and wonders where the Royals will get their leadership.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 30, 2013 at 12:00 AM (#4481119)
But the nad taps, didn't they think of the nad taps?

Royals also released Xavier Nady from AAA, and he signed with Colorado
   11. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: June 30, 2013 at 12:44 AM (#4481129)
Francoeur, 29

Wow.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: June 30, 2013 at 12:50 AM (#4481131)
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
   13. bfan Posted: June 30, 2013 at 01:49 AM (#4481146)
A guy who went out and tried his hardest and was positive in his outlook and demeanor, stayed in shape and respectful to the fans and team sponsors. I never understood the scorn or derision; it was not as if he forced teams to play him at gun-point, or he got the job because his mom or dad was the boss. I hope he invested his money wisely and never had to support a posse that would have drained his salary. May he settle into his retirement and be the same credit to his community that he was to the game.
   14. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: June 30, 2013 at 01:58 AM (#4481148)
I never understood the scorn or derision


Most of the scorn and derision has been pointed at the media's weird obsession with him, all the way back to the days when the Atlanta Journal Constitution would publish a Francoeur story about him every week. Of the remainder, almost all the derision has been pointed at the teams that keep picking him up.

Of the tiny, tiny amount of scorn that's been actually directed at Jeff Francoeur himself, a lot of it was about his hilarious blog, which existed only to advertise Delta airlines.
   15. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: June 30, 2013 at 02:48 AM (#4481150)
A guy who went out and tried his hardest and was positive in his outlook and demeanor, stayed in shape and respectful to the fans and team sponsors.

He did ##### a lot to the media when the Braves sent him down and when the Mets started playing him less.
   16. depletion Posted: June 30, 2013 at 02:49 AM (#4481152)
bfan, really Francoeur is respected here, if I may speak for the group, for being a good guy and good teammate. His outfield arm is respected, too. I think the rag-on-Francoeur trail started after he had 109 rbi early on for Atlanta, then never quite got going offensively after that.
   17. Murderfish Posted: June 30, 2013 at 02:56 AM (#4481154)
. I never understood the scorn or derision; it was not as if he forced teams to play him at gun-point, or he got the job because his mom or dad was the boss.


Except for when the Braves tried to send him to the minors and he threw a hissyfit.
   18. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: June 30, 2013 at 06:20 AM (#4481166)
A guy who went out and tried his hardest and was positive in his outlook and demeanor, stayed in shape and respectful to the fans and team sponsors. I never understood the scorn or derision;...


It's not that difficult. Btw, I don't think Francouer got all that much scorn here, and the derision was reserved at least as much for the idiot teams that kept signing and playing him as it was for Francouer's apparent ignorance.

More than anything, he's a symbol of much of what's wrong with the world, and that alw: form over content, ignorance over truth, grinning commercial flackery over, well, everything. He was held in contempt primarily for a couple of things--for flogging Delta on "his" blog, and for either being dishonest about the value of patience, or for being too stupid too actually understand the issue.

Why you think his being 'respectful to team sponsors' deserves our praise probably needs its own thread.
   19. Colin Posted: June 30, 2013 at 08:59 AM (#4481173)
I never much liked Francoeur, especially when he got so pissy about his demotion. But, then the Braves brought him back three or four days later, and I figured that incident told us everything we needed to know to understand Francoeur. He wasn't good enough to play baseball as a starter at the major league level, but he never had any incentive to change what he was doing - his team kept telling him that what he was doing was great. And even the one time they finally told him he wasn't great, half a week later they brought him back to the majors back into his old role, which probably only served to tell him that he really was fine, that they were the one's who'd messed up by demoting him.

That seemed to be his sports life - as Poz noted, everybody wanted to believe, every step of the way. It certainly wasn't his job to tell them they were wrong.
   20. Sweatpants Posted: June 30, 2013 at 09:37 AM (#4481188)
Francoeur's infamous reaction to his demotion didn't come until after he'd been called back up, and it wasn't really a "hissyfit":
After three years, after playing hurt, playing every day, going in every day whether I got a hit and never complaining, I just played because Bobby [Cox] kept putting me in the lineup. But I just felt like a little three-minute thing -- 'Hey, you're going down' -- I feel like after three years, I was owed a little more of an explanation. But that's Frank's deal and that's what I guess they decided to do.

My question is, what if I had hit a home run or had two hits [Thursday night]? Does it delay it one day, until I was 0-for-4? I was left standing outside in the dark on that. You almost felt like they had made [their minds] up before the game. That's where I felt frustrated, where I felt a little betrayed.
Also worth noting:

- Upon demoting Francoeur, the Braves told him that he'd be recalled in at least three weeks.

- The Braves' starting right fielders during Francoeur's brief absence were Jason Perry for three games and Greg Norton for one.

- Frank Wren said that the decision to recall Francoeur was based on his three games in the minors.
   21. bfan Posted: June 30, 2013 at 10:10 AM (#4481193)
Francoeur's infamous reaction to his demotion didn't come until after he'd been called back up, and it wasn't really a "hissyfit":


Yes; the reaction has grown over the years; 5 years from now, he will have left the AA Jackson, MS team to go back to the Braves because he killed a man in Jackson [just to watch him die}, and had to leave the state.

He clearly was a failure of Braves management; unfulfilled talent because no one sat him down in the minors to work on his pitch selection and low walk rate. But, as you see in many examples, this continues to be a problem today, and a kid that hits well in the minors and never walks seems to draw a pass under the "don't fix what isn't broken" theory. I think with his raw tools Francoeur could have been a more successful MLB player, but he had a flaw which he wouldn't fix and the organization wouldn't address. (I am reminded of Christian Bethancourt, who continues to be promoted and has another futures game on his resume, and will never be successful as a hitter in MLB; you cannot be that poor in pitch selection and survive [or you can be a once in a generation Guerrero, I guess]).
   22. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: June 30, 2013 at 10:31 AM (#4481197)
the reaction has grown over the years

OK, but the amount of "scorn" heaped on him here has also grown. As has been pointed out, it's mostly that we can't believe that teams and the media think this guy's a great player. Based on everything published, he's a great guy. There have been three things that I recall him taking flak over on this site:

1. The demotion reaction. Covered.
2. "If OBP is so important, why don't they put it on the scoreboard". Deservedly mocked.
3. Every single year in spring training he would talk about increasing his discipline. But he never did. Now, maybe he couldn't do it and that's fine, but after the first couple of years, just shut up about it. This got exacerbated when in some years he actually took walks early and then the media started fawning again without realizing the concept of small sample size.

Anyway, the last 2 don't really come up much anymore.
   23. John DiFool2 Posted: June 30, 2013 at 10:34 AM (#4481198)
.380/.382/.750


That would have been funnier if his OBP was less than his BA...
   24. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 30, 2013 at 10:40 AM (#4481200)
It's not that difficult. Btw, I don't think Francouer got all that much scorn here, and the derision was reserved at least as much for the idiot teams that kept signing and playing him as it was for Francouer's apparent ignorance.


Most of the scorn and derision has been pointed at the media's weird obsession with him, all the way back to the days when the Atlanta Journal Constitution would publish a Francoeur story about him every week. Of the remainder, almost all the derision has been pointed at the teams that keep picking him up.


That's all well and good, but what it amounts to in practice is people celebrating when he fails and expressing intense frustration when he plays well. Kind of as if he was a player people didn't like.
   25. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: June 30, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4481203)
I don't remember anyone really celebrating him failing though, even around here. Did that happen? The general reaction seems to be "wow, Francoeur continues to not hit, what a surprise!"
   26. donlock Posted: June 30, 2013 at 11:42 AM (#4481225)
He clearly was a failure of Braves management; unfulfilled talent because no one sat him down in the minors to work on his pitch selection and low walk rate. But, as you see in many examples, this continues to be a problem today, and a kid that hits well in the minors and never walks seems to draw a pass under the "don't fix what isn't broken" theory. I think with his raw tools Francoeur could have been a more successful MLB player, but he had a flaw which he wouldn't fix and the organization wouldn't address.

Don't know that this is possible for most hitters. It appears to be fixable but not too many hitters seem to be able to be bad at these skills and then improve a great deal. The scouting and the pitching in the majors make it hard to turn your game around.

Are there any great examples of poor hitters turning into great ones through discipline? Batters with high walk rates and great pitch selection are the stars of the game.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: June 30, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4481230)
Are there any great examples of poor hitters turning into great ones through discipline? Batters with high walk rates and great pitch selection are the stars of the game.


Sammy Sosa learned just enough discipline to have a profound effect on his performance. But Sammy's prodigious power was surely a multiplier to the slight change in pitch selection ability. I doubt an ordinary player could expect such a change in outcomes based on the changes Sammy made.



   28. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: June 30, 2013 at 12:00 PM (#4481233)
I think Jose Reyes would qualify as an example. He's a very good to great hitter for his position.
   29. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: June 30, 2013 at 12:07 PM (#4481235)
There is a tendency to view batters who don't walk or who strike out excessively as dumb; there is a similar thing with pitchers who have trouble throwing strikes - like they could do it if they only smartened up. Obviously there is no connection (unless you are talking about a specialized kinesthetic intelligence, which probably exists but not quite what I mean).

Somebody is going to bring up Francouer's comment that if OBP were important they would put it on the scoreboard, and yeah it's a silly statement, but I would confess to emphasizing the things I'm good at at work and downplaying the rest.
   30. Greg K Posted: June 30, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4481239)
There is a tendency to view batters who don't walk or who strike out excessively as dumb; there is a similar thing with pitchers who have trouble throwing strikes - like they could do it if they only smartened up.

Agree. And I think this sells short guys with good OBP skills. As if they control the strike zone so well because they are the rare ones who deign to try, rather than pitch recognition being a skill.
   31. Knock on any Iorg Posted: June 30, 2013 at 12:22 PM (#4481240)
Peter Principle. Maybe this IS as good as he gets. What could more instruction and development have done?
   32. asinwreck Posted: June 30, 2013 at 12:24 PM (#4481241)
I'm just pleased by Repoz's David Johansen reference.
   33. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 30, 2013 at 12:26 PM (#4481243)
he killed a man in Jackson [just to watch him die}


While dancin' on a pony keg.

Don't forget that part; it increases the degree of difficulty almost exponentially.
   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 30, 2013 at 12:28 PM (#4481245)
There is a tendency to view batters who don't walk or who strike out excessively as dumb; there is a similar thing with pitchers who have trouble throwing strikes - like they could do it if they only smartened up. Obviously there is no connection (unless you are talking about a specialized kinesthetic intelligence, which probably exists but not quite what I mean).

I mostly agree with you, but it is true that people of higher intelligence are more teachable in pretty much every area. There's almost no task where intelligence doesn't help to some degree.

To the extent baseball skills can be taught, whether it's how you recognize pitch location out of a pitcher's hand, or how you change your swing to generate more power, smarter players will be more likely to absorb the learning.
   35. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: June 30, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4481258)
Somebody is going to bring up Francouer's comment that if OBP were important they would put it on the scoreboard, and yeah it's a silly statement, but I would confess to emphasizing the things I'm good at at work and downplaying the rest.

But he would also talk about improving his plate discipline every year. So, basically, he would say that he knew how important it was and that he was going to improve it. But then when he didn't improve, he said that it wasn't important. I see no problem with mocking that. Again, though, it's mocking the statement, not saying he's a bad guy or anything. He likely wasn't able to improve.
   36. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: June 30, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4481275)
I know there are people who think that high intelligence is a deteriment in baseball (or other sports) because it correlates to an inability to stop overthinking everything and just play. On the surface that notion makes at least some sense (at least on the level that I'm sure that's happened to one or two people over the years) but really I have a hard time believing that intelligence isn't a more-the-merrier quantity that is always a positive.
   37. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 30, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4481279)
IIRC, Frenchy also kinda ####### when the Mets benched him. Saying something like he thought he could help a team if he was playing every day and if that wasn't New York then maybe they should look to trade him.

He was always a stand up guy in KC, lots of great stories of being accessible fans, a good teammate, and he even took his recent benching fairly well considering its not like they were replacing him with anyone good.
   38. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: June 30, 2013 at 06:09 PM (#4481451)
I know there are people who think that high intelligence is a deteriment in baseball (or other sports) because it correlates to an inability to stop overthinking everything and just play.


Funny though, that the people who tend to think that are invariably pretty dumb. I'd rather have to try to teach someone smart to turn off his intelligence in some situations than try to teach someone dumb how to think. If Mets threads have taught us anything...

I mostly agree with you, but it is true that people of higher intelligence are more teachable in pretty much every area. There's almost no task where intelligence doesn't help to some degree.

To the extent baseball skills can be taught, whether it's how you recognize pitch location out of a pitcher's hand, or how you change your swing to generate more power, smarter players will be more likely to absorb the learning.


Yes; and, critically, smarter players will be more likely to realize that there is in fact a problem that needs addressing. Part of curing a problem is genuinely believing that problem exists, and isn't just some nonsense you're being fed.

Part of Francouer's problem seemed to be an inability to understand that OBP was, in fact, important. That's a failure of intelligence. When he paid the idea lip service, when it seemed to benefit him to agree that OBP was important, when pressure from the organizations he was playing for was important for him to address, he was indeed able to draw more walks. It might have been coincidence, but it happened more than once.

If I had to guess, I'd guess that Francoeur did indeed possess the ability to alter his approach, but wasn't smart enough*** to believe OBP really was important, and once he'd gotten people off his back, he went back to doing what he "knew" really mattered. At least, that's the trajectory he seemed to follow.


***Smart enough or not, I've long thought organizations should hold at least a few basic classes, especially in the low minors, in order to get everyone on the same page. How long would a very basic presentation take, that demonstrated the importance of walks and OBP? Then a handful of follow-up classes to reinforce the information. Hell, show young players the correlation between OBP and salary over the last few years if that's what it takes.
   39. Walt Davis Posted: June 30, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4481482)
Sure, presumably there are limits to how good a given individual's pitch recognition/plate discipline can be but I've never believed this wasn't teachable or at least learnable (not quite the same thing).

What gets me about these sorts of players is that they don't seem to be learning from experience. Just how many curveballs can you flail at before you start to catch on that this is a problem? It shouldn't take more than 20 of the damn things before the brain starts to say "what a second, I've experienced this before, this is not going to end well" and sometime around the 25th-30th time it decides "let's not swing this time and see what happens ... ball 1, what's that mean?"

I know it's nowhere near that easy, even Bonds, Williams and Ruth got fooled at times. Although that brings up another area where a little learning might go a long way -- anticipation. You've got to know what pitch you're likely to see in a given situation and, again, how does that knowledge not start to develop through experience?

As a horrible analogy, I used to play a lot of pinball and was pretty good. I never read those lists of things you were supposed to do to get the extra ball but instead learned all of that just through experience. Sort of like the "don't think too much, let it come to you" approach. And of course games are fairly similar -- you know if you knock down all the targets enough times good things will happen so it wasn't rocket science to begin with. Along the way of course you figure out how to make the shots, which shots are near impossible, which are dangerous, which are a distracting waste of time. And how much you can push the machine around and where to smack it.
   40. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 30, 2013 at 06:54 PM (#4481506)
there should be no sympathy for this player. he received approximately 17 more chances than others of his ilk

   41. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: June 30, 2013 at 07:13 PM (#4481538)
Sure, presumably there are limits to how good a given individual's pitch recognition/plate discipline can be but I've never believed this wasn't teachable or at least learnable (not quite the same thing).


Pretty rare that any player gets significantly better at taking walks.
   42. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: June 30, 2013 at 07:49 PM (#4481582)
Strike zone judgment is like speed, it's innate and only very marginal changes can be made to whatever skill level you're born with.
   43. Howie Menckel Posted: June 30, 2013 at 08:06 PM (#4481601)

I went to a Mets home game a few years back, and we happened to buy near-front row seats down the RF line.

Francoeur was a big hit with the crowd there; offered some banter and some free baseballs, and the girls liked him and he seemed like a fun guy.

which his not why you sign a guy to a contract like the Royals did.

   44. Zach Posted: June 30, 2013 at 08:08 PM (#4481602)
When Frenchy was on a hot streak, he was a ballplayer's ballplayer. Good attitude, played hard, lots of hits with doubles power. He just had very little ability to control an at bat -- he always swung at everything, so taking pitches did no good for him. Taking strikes put him in a worse position, while taking balls didn't really help him much, because he couldn't work a walk. Toward the end, he swung at everything -- I remember a long at bat a couple of weeks ago where he must have swung at the first five pitches. He eventually walked, just by staying alive long enough to accumulate four balls.
   45. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: June 30, 2013 at 10:46 PM (#4481706)
Strike zone judgment is like speed, it's innate and only very marginal changes can be made to whatever skill level you're born with.

And you know this... how?

which his not why you sign a guy to a contract like the Royals did.

I think the Royals said (in as many words) that's a big reason why they did sign Francouer to that two year deal.
   46. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: June 30, 2013 at 11:39 PM (#4481742)
Jack: Evidence. Lots and lots of evidence.
   47. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: July 01, 2013 at 12:17 AM (#4481762)
Ah. Well then. Case closed!

He eventually walked, just by staying alive long enough to accumulate four balls.

Hey. Take it to the trunk butt thread, buddy.
   48. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: July 01, 2013 at 01:52 AM (#4481782)
So, a list of players who were very bad at drawing walks early in their careers, but then got better later on:

Paul Molitor
Harold Baines
Robin Yount
Tony Fernandez
Magglio Ordonez
Buddy Bell
Jeff Kent
Don Kessinger
Ryne Sandberg
George Foster
Ted Simmons
Brian McRae

____________________

There does seem to be a line though--players who were TERRIBLE at drawing walks in their early 20s pretty much remained TERRIBLE at drawing walks for their entire careers. Guys who were just BAD at it, though--they had a chance.
   49. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: July 01, 2013 at 06:02 AM (#4481811)
@48: Davo--did you go further back than early 20s?

At, say, 23, a guy drafted out of HS could well have something like 2000 PAs in pro ball. I can easily see how a player for whom during his crucial, formative years no emphasis was placed on OBP would be pretty much stuck with whatever walk-drawing skills he had developed by that age. One can learn and unlearn reflexes to a point, but after facing in the neighborhood of 7500-8000 pitches during those 2000 pro PAs, learning patience at the plate would be extraordinarily difficult.

The time to teach/learn patience really has to be as soon as players leave school, if they haven't been introduced to the idea while in school.
   50. Yellow Tango Posted: July 01, 2013 at 06:44 AM (#4481814)
Calling Francoeur's problem patience is really simplifying the issue. Watching him with the Braves, the problem seemed to be that he HAD to commit to pitches early, because he didn't have a swing that could react or adjust much after the ball was thrown. Even in his "patient" periods, he didn't show much improvement on in-zone/out-of-zone recognition. He could always hit the ball a mile, but I'm not sure his basic baseball skills were ever the kind that could be developed to a major league level.
   51. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: July 01, 2013 at 07:39 AM (#4481821)
?

And yet he could obviously play at a major league level, particularly when he was exhibiting hints of his nonexistent patience.

No one is claiming--I hope--that Francouer was ever going to be a star. At least, no one here should have been. Whether he had to commit early with his swing or not, his reflexes still looked good enough to deliver an OBP that, combined with his power, arm, and adequate defense (at least it was before he bulked up) would have made him a perfectly serviceable RFer through his 20s.

Even for all hit shittiness through at least 2011 he would have been a respectable platoon corner OFer/1Bman/DH if a team had wanted him in that capacity.
   52. bunyon Posted: July 01, 2013 at 08:45 AM (#4481843)
Even for all hit shittiness through at least 2011 he would have been a respectable platoon corner OFer/1Bman/DH if a team had wanted him in that capacity.

I think that was always the case but, yes, lots of people projected him as a star. All of Atlanta, for instance, for far longer than they should have. I happen to think people react to Francouer because of the press - and they even think they're responding to the press - but it comes off aimed at him. Most ballplayers say stupid stuff to the press, that is no reason to criticize him. If you want to bash the press, please do, but, you know, call out the press, not the player. Same goes for Jeter.

As to patience and pitch recognition, it is clearly a skill. There will be players who have the ability but were never taught to do it, or that it is important, who can be taught and learn to use that skill. But there are lots of players who simply won't be very good at it. This goes for walks or flailing at breaking pitches in the dirt. Do you think any player thinks that is a good strategy? Of course not. One needs a basic level of intelligence to play the game but that level is below average - baseball, for as complex a game as it is, is not rocket science. Pretty much every 5 year old can understand that swinging at bad pitches is not an optimal strategy. Being able to determine what pitches are good or bad, IN TIME TO SWING OR NOT, is phenomenonally difficult and not simply a matter of intellect.* One can teach a player gifted with the innate skill to do it but, ideally, it starts well before a professional career starts. And if the innate skill isn't there, it doesn't matter how smart they are or how good the coaches are.


* obviously some players, I'm looking at you, Vlad, can hit bad pitches so, perhaps, their pitch recognition isn't all that important.
   53. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: July 01, 2013 at 08:52 AM (#4481847)
I happen to think people react to Francouer because of the press - and they even think they're responding to the press - but it comes off aimed at him.


This is how I've always felt. I like Frenchy, he just isn't very good. There was a lot of "anti-stats" stuff in the glorification of Francoeur that was quite irritating. I have no doubt he's a wonderful guy (and the criticisms for his post-send down comments always seemed a bit much) but he's just not a very good player.
   54. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 01, 2013 at 09:04 AM (#4481854)
in today's game where benches are ridiculously short due to stuffed bullpens the last item of consideration to gms and managers is a guy who plays a corner position and can only hit lefties. that's just too narrow a skill set in today's game. so listing that as a possible career option is equivalent to telling the player his career in the bigs is over.

which for this player it is.

   55. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: July 01, 2013 at 09:23 AM (#4481864)
I think it's pretty obvious that pitch recognition and selectiveness is mostly a talent like speed or power. And like speed and power, it can be improved incrementally through practice and experience (hence the phrase "old player skills"), but it's extremely rare for players to improve significantly. I don't think intelligence has much to do with it.

edit: I know speed declines as you get older, but younger players can improve their jumps and baserunning with practice.
   56. The Good Face Posted: July 01, 2013 at 09:34 AM (#4481873)
I think it's pretty obvious that pitch recognition and selectiveness is mostly a talent like speed or power. And like speed and power, it can be improved incrementally through practice and experience (hence the phrase "old player skills"), but it's extremely rare for players to improve significantly. I don't think intelligence has much to do with it.


I'll sign onto this. It's one thing to have the smarts/awareness telling you to lay off that damn slider on the outside corner, but actually doing it is another kettle of fish entirely.
   57. TomH Posted: July 01, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4481922)
Sammy Sosa.
Mark McGwire.

When they learned not to swing at lousy pitches, they became monsters.
   58. SoSH U at work Posted: July 01, 2013 at 10:48 AM (#4481932)
Sammy Sosa.
Mark McGwire.

When they learned not to swing at lousy pitches, they became monsters.


McGwire always had a pretty good batting eye. Sammy indeed learned to do a better job of laying off pitches out of the zone, as I noted above.

   59. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: July 01, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4481949)
Sosa is the exception that proves the rule. And he's problematic given the steroids issue (yes, I think he used). It's entirely possible that the steroids (a) increased his bat speed enough that he was able to wait a little longer on pitches, and (b) increased his power enough that pitchers didn't want to throw him strikes.
   60. The Good Face Posted: July 01, 2013 at 11:06 AM (#4481951)
McGwire always had a pretty good batting eye. Sammy indeed learned to do a better job of laying off pitches out of the zone, as I noted above.


Yep, McGwire was never a hacker with no strike zone judgment; 71 BB in his rookie season. Sosa did improve dramatically, but it looks like much of the improvement was a by-product of his stupendous HR power. Looking at his HR to BB ratios, I'm guessing the improvement was the result of terrified pitchers avoiding the plate like the plague as opposed to a huge change in Sosa's approach. When the power dropped back down to mortal levels, his BB rate dropped back to around what it was before he became SAMMY SOSA, Savior of Baseball.
   61. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 01, 2013 at 11:24 AM (#4481958)
I'll sign onto this. It's one thing to have the smarts/awareness telling you to lay off that damn slider on the outside corner, but actually doing it is another kettle of fish entirely.

I don't think the intelligence/lack-thereof comes into play at the plate, I think it aids/retards the teaching/learning process of figuring out the strike zone.

Smart guys are going to be 1) more likely to recognize the problem and decide it needs fixing, 2) more willing and able to do the video study/practice to recognize pitches out of the pitcher's hand, and 3) more likely to actually assimilate the patterns, and be able to deploy that knowledge in game.
   62. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 01, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4481981)
The numbers aren't very dramatic, but Carlos Gonzalez has set a new high in walks every single season of his career, and he's on pace to do so again this year.
   63. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: July 01, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4482333)
49--I checked up to 27 or so. I didn't want the numbers to get too cloudy--almost every player in history who was playing regularly past age 35 was drawing a lot more walks than he did at age 30...that's sort of the essence of "Old player skills" (you lose the ability to drive EVERY pitch, so you become a lot more selective--walks AND strikeouts increase).

I was more wondering, "Okay, were there guys who broke in to the Majors and were really shitty at drawing walks, but who then improved over time?"

And there are plenty of them. But the guys who were Godawful at drawing walks--walking in less than 4% of their PAs....these guys were almost all hopeless.
   64. bfan Posted: July 01, 2013 at 05:30 PM (#4482355)
But the guys who were Godawful at drawing walks--walking in less than 4% of their PAs....these guys were almost all hopeless.


Frncoeur was certainly better than that.

i would agree that batting eye, even if not 100% innate, is pretty ingrained by the time players are drafted. however, I have to believe there could be some improvement at the margin, if it were stressed and worked on, and thus, is worth trying. I also feel that improvement is this regard has collateral benefits; not swinging at bad pitches not only leads to more walks, but less poorly struck balls, and that pitchers scouting players who will not always bite on the slider 12 inches off the plate now have to come more in (or closer to) the strike zone, leading to more well hit wells...the cycle, once started, has many positive effects, which is why, when you have a player who hits .300+ with power in A ball, and does not walk, you do not promote him and you work on whatever there is to do, to improve strike-zone judgment, as promoting the player through the minors is just asking him to bump into a ceiling he will not be able to break-through, and the longer you defer the re-training and the more habits get ingrained, the harder it will be, to fix.

For example, Christian bethancourt hit okay and walked 8 times in 221 ab's in low A-ball, and was promoted to high-A in mid-season, where he then walked 3 times in 166 ab's, leading to his promotion the next year to AA, where he walked 11 times in 268 ABs. At some point, the organization has to stop rpomoting him; he never hits well at any stop, and he has no strike-zone judgment. His walk rates are worse than Francoeur's in the minors. No matter what his talents were in the field, this will not end well for him, unless he/they fix this problem.
   65. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: July 01, 2013 at 10:48 PM (#4482601)
I;m not sure what this all proves except that if you wait until it's too late to teach a player a skill, it's usually too late to teach a player a skill.

If you don't teach a player to swing a bat until he's in his early 20s, he's probably not going to swing a bat well.

If you don't teach him to throw a baseball until he's in his early 20s, he's probably not going to learn to throw a baseball well.

If you don't teach him strike zone judgment as a hitter until he's in his early 20s, he's going to have a tough time learning to take a walk.

The failure of someone who isn't taught how to do any of these things to do them well shouldn't surprise anyone, and it also shouldn't spur claims that the failure to do these things well means that hitting is an innate skill that can't be learned, or that throwing is an innate skill that can't be learned, or... you guessed it, that patience at the plate is an innate skill that can't be learned.

It's one thing to have the smarts/awareness telling you to lay off that damn slider on the outside corner, but actually doing it is another kettle of fish entirely.


I really doubt that's going to be the case if you start telling a hitter to lay off starting when he's 15 years old. If you wait for 7 or 8 more years of a bad habit to become ingrained (over three thousand plate appearances, plus easily as many as one hundred thousand swings in the batting cage, sure, but it makes no sense for that to be the point from which someone claims "patience at the plate is innate; it really can't be taught".



   66. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: July 01, 2013 at 11:13 PM (#4482620)
i would agree that batting eye, even if not 100% innate,...


I doubt it's any more innate than most other skills on the diamond.

It's probably emphasized less (certainly until about a decade ago) than just about any other skill in the game. There was probably more formal emphasis on hitting the cutoff man through the year 2000 than there was on developing patience at the plate.

Do a majority (or even more than a few) of teams have any sort of formal training*** for their minor leaguers in the art of drawing walks?

...is pretty ingrained by the time players are drafted.

As is pretty much every skill by the time players are drafted.

...almost every player in history who was playing regularly past age 35 was drawing a lot more walks than he did at age 30...

Which tells us that drawing walks is not an innate akill. It's a skill that can even be learned by players whose other skills are in serious decline.





***beyond a coach hollering across the diamond, "wait for your pitch! Wait for your pitch!"
   67. vivaelpujols Posted: July 02, 2013 at 01:25 AM (#4482697)
I don't understand. Jeff Francouer was a terrible player for along time and was insanely overrated by the media. Isn't that enough to hate him?
   68. vivaelpujols Posted: July 02, 2013 at 01:44 AM (#4482700)
As far as I know BB% peaks the latest of any skill. That implies that it's the most teachable skill, and yes Francouer's inability to improve his BB rate at all implies he's dumber than the average ballplayer (either in his ability to learn new skills or his ability to understand the importance of walks).
   69. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: July 02, 2013 at 02:33 AM (#4482707)
And there are plenty of them. But the guys who were Godawful at drawing walks--walking in less than 4% of their PAs....these guys were almost all hopeless.


I don't doubt it. Even in the Dark Ages of baseball, walking was considered to have some value. Guys who couldn't walk at all probably did lack the vision/reflexes/spatial sense/pitch recognition ability necessary to improve even when they wanted to and tried to. As with anything, it's tough to get better at a thing when you've demonstrated year after year no facility whatever for that thing.
   70. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: July 02, 2013 at 02:53 AM (#4482713)
beyond a coach hollering across the diamond, "wait for your pitch! Wait for your pitch!"


And that sort of thing is easily negated by shouting, "SWING, batter!"

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