The Big…Four?

This weekend I was driving while listening to the Braves pre-game show. Twice I heard two references that almost made me crash the car. I will paraphrase the comments.

Friday:

Coming into this season, I saw this team having four big hitters and four complementary hitters. The big hitters are Chipper, Teixeira, McCann, and Jeff Francoeur.

Sunday:

The Phillies and their big-three of Howard, Utley, and Rollins have played well compared to the Braves big-four of Chipper, Teixeira, McCann, and Jeff Francoeur.

What on earth is Jeff Francoeur doing in this grouping? This year Francoeur has posted a line of .253/.303 /.415/.718, which is an OPS+ of 89. And it’s not like this performance is a surprise. If you take out the first month of his career, in which he was “the natural”, he has a career OPS of .756. That is a major-league player, not an All-Star. Why does one month–during which I am convinced that poor scouting, good luck, and exceptional play created a phenomenal start–still dominate the public perception of this player?

And it’s not that Francoeur is a bad baseball player: looking around the Braves outfield, it’s obvious that Francoeur isn’t a bad option. But why is he put in the category with players who are in a completely different class? I mean, Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar have better seasons and better careers than Francouer, yet they are not included in the conversation.

It’s fine for teenage girls who come to games in costumes to declare their undying love to the Frenchy, but comments such as these have no place on radio shows for Braves baseball fans.

6 Responses “The Big…Four?”

  1. Rick says:

    The constant ball-washing of Francoeur by anyone and everyone connected to the Braves is disgusting. At this rate he is on pace to be, at best, an average MLB player. All he has to do is look at his numbers to see why McCann got the contract and he didn’t. If he wasn’t from the area, he wouldn’t be getting all of the “love” he gets.

  2. Marc says:

    That wouldn’t happen to have been said on Braves Live, was it? Or was it the radio pre-game show? I’ll bet it was the atrocity that is Braves Live.

    Finally, it’s great to see someone question all the love Jeff Francoeur gets and how some truly exceptional players are in his shadow. The amount of attention and love he gets is very sad in light of the mediocre baseball player that he is. I hope the Braves organization is smarter than signing him long term–he doesn’t deserve what he thinks he’s worth, which was David Wright money the last I heard.

  3. JC says:

    The Friday comment was made by Bill Shanks (surprise!) on 680 AM. I was in the Blue Ridge area, so I’m not sure if this was on 680 “The Fan” or some other station. In fairness to Shanks, he was saying that Francouer was not not playing as well as he should be, but I think he is wrong to think of Francouer as being on track to be one of the team’s better hitters. He made the horrible suggestion hitting Josh Anderson and Gregor Blanco first and second, which, unfortunately, Bobby did on Sunday. The last thing these guys need is more at bats per game.

    The Sunday comment was by Mitch Evans on the Braves pre-game show.

  4. Kyle S says:

    He’s also one of the worst right-fielders in the league this year, according to UZR. Even my dad, who is far from a stat guy, thinks he stinks. How many runners does he need to leave on base before everyone else figures this out? He doesn’t even have much power any more.

  5. JC says:

    Yeah, I wrote up a post on his poor defense last week.

    At the time he was -7 (ranked 31st in RF) in Plus/Minus. Now, he is at a -9 (33rd).

  6. Marc Schneider says:

    The Braves would probably be better off if those girls were playing right field.

    The problem is Francoeur “looks” like a ballplayer. Everytime he does something good, people get excited and ignore the 10 times he screws up. People don’t seem to get the point that “tools” do not necessarily equate to being a good baseball player. The skills that make a good baseball player are not necessarily “athletic” but include stuff like adaptability, selectivity, etc. These are more traits (partly temperament) than they are athletic ability. But the morons that pass for analysts generally don’t realize that.