Playing for the first time since being sent to Double-A Mississippi to get his head and swing right this past weekend, Jeff Francoeur looked good in three of his five at-bats.
His only hit was a fifth-inning single through the left side of the infield. But he grounded sharply to the right side during his first plate appearance and didn’t look pull-happy in the fourth inning when he hit a sharp fly ball to right field.
Putting aside the sample size issue, I am tired of hearing people (I’m talking directly to you Joe Simpson) praise the virtue of hitting to the opposite field. While the ability to hit to all fields is a nice skill, not everyone has it. Take Jeff Francoeur, for example. Thanks to Baseball-Reference’s splits we can see how he performs when he hits the ball to different parts of the field (career numbers below).
Field PA AVG OBP SLG OPS BABIP Pulled 441 0.451 0.447 0.815 1.261 0.396 Up Mdle 822 0.297 0.296 0.46 0.756 0.269 Opp FldR 258 0.289 0.283 0.443 0.726 0.275
He is far more successful when he pulls the ball. There is an Braves folk tale that involves Joe Torre telling Dale Murphy “there are a lot of hits out there in right field.” Unfortunately, there are a lot of outs over there too, and Frenchy’s finding plenty of them.
Field PA AVG OBP SLG OPS BABIP Pulled-RHB 286 0.396 0.396 0.714 1.110 0.347 Up Mdle-RHB 553 0.293 0.290 0.357 0.648 0.285 Opp Fld-RHB 254 0.421 0.419 0.556 0.975 0.414 Pulled-LHB 611 0.396 0.393 0.723 1.116 0.336 Up Mdle-LHB 1164 0.305 0.304 0.401 0.705 0.294 Opp Fld-LHB 446 0.370 0.362 0.540 0.902 0.344
It’s easy to see why TP preaches the opposite-field philosophy: it worked for him. However, it doesn’t look like this is the proper approach for Frenchy.
Francoeur’s problem is a simple one: he has no plate discipline. He needs to worry about what he swings at rather than where he hits the ball when he makes contact.