The Jeff Francoeur Game

Alright, let’s play a game. Jeff Francoeur is having what might be the greatest start for a rookie in the history of baseball. And though other players have started off hot, I think few have done as well with minor league stats as mediocre as Francoeur’s. Now, I’m not trying to knock him at all. The guy put up .275/.322/.487 in AA Mississippi, and those are very good numbers for a 21 year-old prospect. But, those are not numbers you would expect to translate to .419/.425/.802 as he approaches 100 plate appearances.

I’d like to see an over/under betting market on how he will end up on Tradesports, which Steven Levitt discusses here. However, this is just too minor a thing to start a market for. So, let’s have a contest, where our reputations will be the reward or punishment. It’s not perfect, but I think my former professor Tyler Cowen, who’s written quite a bit on the subject of approbation, would approve.

Here’s the contest. Predict whether Jeff Francoeur hits over/under .300 in his batting average for the 2005 regular season. Simply write in the comments over or under. Anonymous comments will be deleted, remember you have to put your reputation on the line.

Why .300? Well, I figure if Jeff hits .250 for the rest of the season, over which he’ll get about 150 more at-bats that would put him right about .300.

Here’s some information on Francoeur’s 2005 minor and major league performances.

I’ll start: Under.

33 Responses “The Jeff Francoeur Game”

  1. James says:

    My take on Franky-

    He is obviously playing way above his head right now, and as anyone who is hitting .419, has had his share of luck. He will hit a slump at some point, but Bobby will sit him once it is obvious he is slumping. Thus, I believe he will finish the season batting above .300, because when he slumps, his number of AB’s will decrease to the point that he won’t have enough plate appearances to make enough outs to have the BA drop below .300.

  2. roberto says:

    UNDER

    Bobby won’t sit Francouer when he is slumping, because Bobby tends to stick with his guys even when they are slumping. See Kelly Johnson this year, or Vinny Castilla about 2 or 3 years ago.

  3. creynolds says:

    OVER

    Although I suspect he’ll lose a good bit of power, he’ll hit for at least enough of an average to keep it above that. At worst, he’s Rocco Baldelli from here on out – makes enough contact and has enough speed to put up a decent average, even it’s rather empty.

  4. Aaron says:

    Under. Roberto’s right. Bobby won’t sit him. He’ll have Francoeur play through it when pitchers stop throwing him strikes.

    I know he’s getting up there in the PAs (or ABs, which for him are almost the same number), but other organizations aren’t stupid, and they’ll eventually find him out like they did KJ.

    When someone finds the pitches that fool him every time, no team will stop throwing them until he figures it out. Which will probably be in the offseason.

  5. John says:

    Under. I’ll stick to my guns and trust that NL pitchers will adapt. I hope he keeps it up, though.

    Great idea, by the way.

  6. LatNam says:

    I’m gonna say over. Its more wishing than anything else, but I too think he won’t get enough PA’s(AB’s? To Francoeur they’re basically the same thing) to lower it much. I will say he’ll be closer to .300 than .320.

  7. LatNam says:

    Wow I look like a moron seeing that Aaron made the same joke about AB’s and PA’s that I did. I should read more carefully.

  8. Kyle says:

    Over. I don’t have any faith in his ability to maintain this level of performance. However, even with expected mean regression (and I think .250 is a good level for that – which will kill us if he doesn’t walk, by the way), he still already has 90 ABs at over .400. I don’t think he gets enough ABs playing poorly enough to take it that far down.

    I will likely be wrong.

    By the way, JC, I need some advice about the appropriateness of some regression techniques in a model I’ve developed for an article here. Look for an email in the next day or so, depending on my available time.

  9. Chuck Oliveros says:

    As Tom Paciorek pointed out last night, the place to pitch Francoeur is high and inside, since he is obviously a tremendous low ball hitter. The thing that Francoeur has going for him is that most pitchers these days are low ball pitchers, and there aren’t a lot of them who can pitch high effectively.

    Given Francouer’s current average, I believe that he will finish over .300.

  10. J. Cross says:

    OVER

    I’m guessing that Francoer hits .275/.295/.480 the rest of the way to give him a final line of .326/.343/.597

  11. Kirk says:

    Over. He has enough natural ability to keep his BA above .250. However, I agree that his “Achilles Heel” is up and in. As demonstrated over the past couple of nights, he will chase balls there. It will be intersting to see if he learns to lay off those pitches sooner rather than later.

  12. Kevin says:

    Over – I don’t think he is suddenly a 300 hitter, but he would just have to stop hitting (and keep playing) to hit that mark. What will Jordan’s return mean for playing time.

    Interesting that Roberto (#2) says Kelly Johnson is one of Bobby’s guys. As a Yankee fan, the idea that a rookie with 200 abs is “a guy” is amazing, but is that really that the Braves ended up short in the OF and had to play these guys.

    I guess follow up question on Franky 2.5 walks – do you want the over or under. I’ll take the under.

  13. JF says:

    Under, and to Kevin, I’ll take the over, just because I think he’ll have a couple of IBBs before the year is over.

  14. Dean says:

    OVER

    1st Round Draft Pick in 2002. It is likely that his potential is beginning to get realized in addition to a rookie hot streak.

    My 2006 bet is that he will be under .300. A whole season and the proliferation of info about him among opposing pitchers will take its toll.

  15. Katman says:

    UNDER
    I watched Jason Schmidt throw hard stuff up and in to him last night, and he was overmatched. Once his weakness is understood, his average will plummet.

    Doesn’t mean he’s not going to be a terrific player, but his lack of discipline is going to hurt him.

    OVER on the walks. Even Neifi gets walks.

  16. nevin says:

    Bobby will leave him out there, unless it gets REALLY bad. People will start throwing him up and in, but how many can consistently get it over for strikes? He’ll start to lay off that, draw some walks, strike out some, swing at anything that’s away from there because he’ll be trying to take advantage of anything that’s not up and in, strike out more, average will fall, but between the walks he’ll start to take and Bobby sitting him under the guise of giving Langerhans some PT he’ll still wind up hitting over .300.

  17. Jason says:

    Over
    The lack of walks is a huge concern, but he is mashing pitches off his shoetops. He has a high contact rate on swings, combine that with a lot of ISO-power and he’ll still hit for power. Regression to the mean will set in, but I see no reason to expect an equal and opposite reaction that will put him under .300.

  18. Max says:

    Over. He’ll walk at least once by the end of the season.

  19. matty fred says:

    UNDER.

    Opposition scouting and video will cool a currently hot bat.

  20. Johnny says:

    Under,
    Francoeur will have a string of 0 fers as the league adjusts. Having watched him he won’t bite at the outside low pitch like Andruw (used to?) does but as others have observed he’ll swing at that high inside pitch and miss a lot. (I haven’t seen him make contact on one.) It will be interesting to see how he adjusts and responds to coaching as he goes through the inevitable failure that makes the game so darn difficult.
    All that being said I think the kid is going to be at least a championship caliber player. He’s never going to walk 100 times or have a .400 OBP but his ability to make contact and that tremendous bat speed combined with his obvious defensive attributes bode well for a decent career. Something like .275/.340/.520 kind of Andruw like.

  21. OVER.
    His average will be .290

  22. Kirk says:

    Francoeur update: 47 hits/124 ABs, .379 BA. With 39 games remaining, if he averages 3.75 AB’s/game he will need 34 hits/146 ABs, .233 BA to finish at .300.

  23. JB says:

    over .336

  24. Kirk says:

    Weekly update: 52/145, .359. 33 games remaining, needs 29/122, .238 to finish at .300.

  25. Kirk says:

    Because I’m a geek with too much time on my hands (after all the game tonight was rained out), and inspired by the BP post season odds report, I devised a simple Monte Carlo simulation to determine the probability that Jeff will finish with a BA > .300 assuming: a) 122 more ABs; and b) his “true” BA is .275. Running the simulation 1 million times, I got the following results: Max Final BA = .412 Min Final BA = .240 Expected Final BA = .320 P(BA > .300) = 84.7%

  26. Kirk says:

    Weekly update: 57/168, .339. 25 games remaining, needs 22/93, .237 to finish above .300. Estimating true ability at .275, odds of finishing .300 or better are about 83%.

  27. Kirk says:

    Weekly update: 62/187, .332. 20 games remaining, needs 17/74, .230 to finish above .300.

  28. Kirk says:

    Weekly update: 68/215, .316. 13 games remaining, needs 11/48, .229 to finish above .300. Probability of over around 81%.

  29. Kirk says:

    Weekly update: Francouer had a bad week since last update (5/26, .192) to drop to 73/241, .303. With 6 games remaining, he needs to average about 1 hit per game (say 6/22 if he played every game) to finish above .300. My guess is he will be held out of a game or two after the Braves’ clinch. It is coming down to the wire!

  30. Kirk says:

    Weekly update: Francouer had a bad week since last update (5/26, .192) to drop to 73/241, .303. With 6 games remaining, he needs to average about 1 hit per game (say 6/22 if he played every game) to finish above .300. My guess is he will be held out of a game or two after the Braves’ clinch. It is coming down to the wire!

  31. Kyle says:

    The mean regression has been pretty startling, hasn’t it? At this rate, he probably needs another half season to full season in AAA, but ain’t no chance of that happening.

    Looks like the .300 number was a damn good over/under, JC. Good job.

  32. Danny says:

    I’m cheating for getting into this debate so late, but I think the issue is settled. Jeff is currently at .306 (76 hits in 248 AB). Best case he gets 12 more ABs this season meaning he would only need 2 hits for an even .300. The last series is against Florida who will not risk injury in a long outing by the star pitchers.