I Confess

AJC columnist Mark Bradley has a message for the golden-boy doubters out there.

Let’s try an audience-participation exercise. All of you who were saying Jeff Francoeur was (a.) way overrated and (b.) needed to be sent to the minors, raise your hand.

Understand: I’m not trying to be a scold or to say, “I told you so.” I’m just wondering how many of you are willing to admit you jumped the gun, if only to yourselves. Confession, I’ve always found, is good for the soul.

I never said he should go to the minors, and I would not call myself a “Frenchy-hater”—you’ve got to love a guy who works as a substitute teacher at his old high school during the offseason. However, I did, and still do, think he’s a bit overrated. Certainly, he doesn’t need to be making Delta commercials about hitting fly balls to adoring fans on other continents, yet—I can’t believe his agent allowed him to do that. But anyway, let’s check in on how Jeff is doing in terms of producing runs, along with his teammates.

Player       		AVG	 OBP      SLG      OPS      LWTS
Brian McCann    	0.350    0.401    0.558    0.960    12.58
Edgar Renteria    	0.326    0.412    0.431    0.843    10.32
Chipper Jones    	0.306    0.403    0.463    0.866    10.11
Andruw Jones    	0.263    0.340    0.479    0.819    8.92
Matt Diaz    		0.390    0.387    0.644    1.031    7.09
Adam LaRoche    	0.242    0.346    0.470    0.816    5.67
Wilson Betemit    	0.278    0.329    0.494    0.823    3.04
Ryan Langerhans    	0.256    0.350    0.384    0.734    2.09
Brian Jordan    	0.263    0.313    0.456    0.769    1.61
John Thomson    	0.389    0.389    0.500    0.889    1.16
Horacio Ramirez    	1.000    1.000    1.000    2.000    0.94
Martin Prado    	0.200    0.429    0.600    1.029    0.75
Jorge Sosa    		0.111    0.273    0.444    0.717    0.06
Chad Paronto    	0.000    0.000    0.000    0.000    -0.25
Travis Smith    	0.000    0.000    0.000    0.000    -0.25
Marcus Giles    	0.235    0.328    0.325    0.653    -1.18
Tony Pena    		0.111    0.200    0.111    0.311    -1.20
Todd Pratt    		0.175    0.267    0.275    0.542    -1.77
Jeff Francoeur    	0.258    0.272    0.463    0.735    -1.81
John Smoltz    		0.105    0.190    0.158    0.348    -2.34
Tim Hudson    		0.111    0.158    0.111    0.269    -2.73
Pete Orr    		0.196    0.212    0.275    0.486    -3.38
Kyle Davies    		0.000    0.000    0.000    0.000    -3.75

Jeff Francoeur may grow into the greatest hitter in Atlanta Braves history, but it’s way to early to start heaping this praise on the kid. Right now, he has much more in common with Ryan Langerhans—check out those OPS—than his buddy Brian McCann, whose entire season has been better than Francoeur’s recent “hot streak.” To me, a big sign that Francoeur could have used some more time in the oven—other than his lack of walks—is that he’s 0-5 in stolen bases. This is a guy who might have played DB in the NFL and he can’t take a base! While, Chipper and his bunions are 3-0. Stealing bases takes more than speed; it’s an art, and I think it’s something he could have worked on in the minors.

Also, Gondee at Talking Chop posted this interesting comparison between Francoeur and McCann the other day.

McCann’s approach at the plate is a patient one, but not an overly patient one that lets good pitches go by. His strikeout to walk ratio throughout his minor league career has gotten better each year. And it’s going to continue to improve in the majors.

In the Minors:
Year – BB – SO
2002 – 10 – 22
2003 – 24 – 73
2004 – 31 – 54
2005 – 25 – 26

In the Majors:
Year – BB – SO
2005 – 18 – 26
2006 – 11 – 12 (after the first two at-bats tonight)

But Francoeur, he is the all swing, at all pitches, all the time. And it seems like the times he has had the most success, have been the times when he has been the most patient at the plate – patient, for him. Here are his strikeout to walk ratios, for comparison:

In the Minors:
Year – BB – SO
2002 – 15 – 34
2003 – 30 – 68
2004 – 22 – 83
2005 – 21 – 76

In the Majors:
Year – BB – SO
2005 – 11 – 58
2006 – 1 – 31 (after the first two at-bats tonight)

Draw your own conclusions.

Though Brian hasn’t gotten the hype, his patience seems to be paying off. Again, I don’t think Francoeur should be sent down. However, he was rushed to the show, and I think it was a bad decision.

Don’t forget to play The Francoeur Game!

One Response “I Confess”

  1. Mac Thomason says:

    Of course, we knew that McCann would be better than Francoeur this year. Not that we predicted Brian would be hitting .350 in May.

    I am inordinately proud of my Francoeur/Armas comparison, BTW.

    Anyway, what’s going on with the baserunning instruction? Langerhans is fast too and he’s just an awful basestealer, 0-3 in the majors and 95 of 160 in the minors.