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jeff-francoeur-vs-the-phillies-3-13-15-lob-0-rbi | June | 2008 Articles

2008 Archives

Jeff Francoeur vs. the Phillies: 3-13, 15 LOB, 0 RBI

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We just got swept at home for the first time this year. Until we played the Phillies, home was the only place where we could win. Now, it seems we can't win anywhere. Jeff Francoeur personally left 15 men on base in the three games we played, games in which we scored 3, 2, and 3 runs. He's batting .253/.303/.415 on the season, which just isn't acceptable for a starting outfielder. By basically any reasonable measure, he's the worst-hitting starting right fielder in baseball, which probably means that he shouldn't be starting. Of course, we don't have anyone else: with Kotsay on the shelf with a back problem (this is the guy who lost the past two seasons to a back injury and back surgery), we're down to the injured Matt Diaz, backup outfielders Gregor Blanco and Josh Anderson, and backup infielders Greg Norton and Omar Infante. None of them are really starting players; however, as much as I agree with Will that Gregor Blanco isn't as good as many people would like to think, he's actually been much more valuable than Francoeur, outpacing him by 80 points of OBP by drawing almost twice as many walks in almost half as many at bats. Frank Wren's strategy this offseason and season, which we questioned at the time, was to obtain a glut of backup infielders and left-handed relievers. This left us with Will Ohman, Jeff Ridgway (still in AAA), Ruben Gotay, Greg Norton, and Omar Infante, and only Blanco and the pinch-runner quality Anderson as backup outfielders, despite the fact that Matt Diaz and Jeff Francoeur have been hitting like backups since the beginning of the year. Chipper's day-to-day with another minor leg injury, which isn't so bad; he needs to miss a day now and again, because he's simply not a 150 game player any more, and if an injury helps keep the rest of his body fresh, I have no problem with it. McCann also needs his days off, but his backup is the worthless Corky Miller, who can't catch, can't hit, and can't throw, and who is batting .069 on the season. But Miller isn't the problem, even though he's a backup who hits like a corpse, nor are the other crappy backups who hit like crappy backups even when forced into starting roles (Infante, Norton, Anderson). The problem is Jeff Francoeur, who hits like a backup even though he will never, ever lose his starting job. He has no plate discipline, poor instincts (a lifetime 45% stolen base rate), and, as his steadily declining ISO and SLG suggest, appears to have lost what power he ever had. He's transforming into an inept, free-swinging singles hitter, except he can't hit as well as Matt Diaz or even Randall Simon. Obviously, there's always a chance he'll put it all together. He's physically gifted, after all, and he still has a pretty good arm and plays a fair defensive right field, though indications appear to be that his defense isn't as good this year as it was last year. But right now he doesn't deserve a starting job. I'd rather start Bernie Williams.

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