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Frenchy to break out in 2008???

on .

For those of you who read Baseball Prospectus you may have noticed that their top break out candidate for 2008 is none other than Jeff Francoeur. Here is a link to the article, but it requires subscription (well worthwhile for the serious baseball fan). For those who aren't subscribers let me give you a few choice snippets:
We know that Francoeur has tremendous physical skills, ones that have enabled him to hit .280 and slug .463 through his 2 ½ seasons despite being a very raw specimen at the plate. We also know that he is more than a hitter; Francoeur is a good defensive right fielder with one of the best arms in the game. He’s not fast, although he runs the bases reasonably well and has decent speed. The mark against Francoeur has always been his lack of plate discipline.
The article then goes on to say:
Take a player who has top-tier tools (save speed), who has lots of experience at a young age, and who has clearly improved the biggest hole in his game—that’s a player who projects for a significant leap forward. It Francoeur merely redistributes his XBH and adds 10 walks and five singles, you’re looking at a .300/.350/.500 player with plus defense. If he takes a leap forward—which is what I can see happening—you’re talking about a mid-ballot MVP candidate.
What do you all make of that? Let me give you my thoughts. Privately I've always been a supporter of Frenchy as a breakout candidate in 2008 but I've never properly looked and the data. We know he changed his approach significantly in 2007 and while that yielded dividends in terms of walks a closer analysis shows he hasn't shown intra-season improvement that I believe is necessary to portend a breakout in 2008. Take a look at his monthly walks:
  • April: 9
  • May: 5
  • June: 5
  • July:8
  • August: 6
  • September: 9
Unless April was a complete fluke I don't think you can say that Frenchy has shown the required intra-season improvement. That said I fully expect him to progress. He'll continue to edge up his walk rate and some of the doubles of last year will fly over the fence this -- don't be surprised to see him finish the season second in the 2008 home run charts (to Teixiera). He'll be a valuable player for sure. But a mid-ballot MVP candidate ... no chance.

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