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Jeff Francoeur — Freshman Fluke or Sophomore Star?
In Jeff Francoeur's first 23 games in the majors from July 7 to August 9, 2005, he batted 35-for-81 with 8 doubles and 8 home runs -- but 0 walks and 1 hit-by-pitch. That's a .432 batting average, .827 slugging percentage, .439 on-base percentage, and 1.266 OPS.
In the other 47 games in his career so far, he batted 42-for-176 with 12 doubles, 1 triple, and 6 home runs -- with 11 walks, 3 HBP, and 2 sacrifice flies. That's a .239 batting average, .420 slugging percentage, .292 on-base percentage, and .712 OPS.
Those 47 games in August, September, and October have accounted for 71% of his plate appearances in the majors so far, and his performance over that span was only marginally better than Brian Jordan's and Raul Mondesi's combined performance earlier in the year. MoJo, as I liked to call them, combined for a .233 batting average, .346 slugging percentage, .286 on-base percentage, and .631 OPS in 406 plate appearances.
Just for grins, let's combine those numbers with Francoeur's last 192 plate appearances. In 598 times at the plate not counting Francouer's hot July and early August, the three of them combined for a .235 batting average, .370 slugging percentage, .288 on-base percentage, and .657 OPS. Add Kelly Johnson's horrible start, and that's a full season's worth of absolutely horrible hitting from the Braves outfield.
But I digress; this is about Jeff Francoeur.
His minor league stats suggest that we should, at best, expect roughly 280/500/330. Most likely, it seems, he's an .800-OPS hitter with decent speed and a good arm. Granted, most major league sluggers never blew away the minors with power because they hadn't yet put on the upper body mass.
The point is that expectations should be kept at reasonable levels to minimize disappointments and criticisms of a potential star. Francoeur has the ability, but right now he's a 22-year-old MLB sophomore who hopes, along with his fans, that he can put up the good numbers of which we all know he's capable.
I'm optimistic, of course.
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Stats links: Baseball Cube, ESPN