I think it is very timely to discuss Jeff Francoeur. And not just because the Royals just released him. Or because the Giants just signed him to a minor league contract.
Granted that is part of it, and it is very likely that Francoeur will play a key role in San Francisco’s playoff push, but that is not the real reason I felt it was so important to talk about the right fielder. It is certainly an interesting follow up to both my article last week, and the ongoing discussion about Yasiel Puig.
In 2005, the then 21 year old came up and took the league by storm. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and seemed as if he would never stop hitting. While the outfielder did have a good run with the Braves, he never lived up to expectations or matched the success he found in his first month.
Sure there were some good years, he did hit 29 home runs and drive in 103 runs in 2006 followed up by 105 RBI’s in 2007, but Francoeur never turned out to be the star and perennial All-Star everyone thought he would be when he made his debut.
The main issue with the right fielder, was that he was a free swinger who always struck out too much and never hit for a good enough average. But, the power and run production was always decent even with the batting average was lacking.
However, this year was a different story for Francoeur prior to his release from the Royals. So far this season, he is batting .208 which even for him is a new career low. The bigger problem, is that he only has 3 home runs in 59 games to go with 13 RBI’s. Kansas City has young outfielders like David Lough who are deserving of playing time, so it made sense for them to let him go.
But, it also made sense for the the Giants to pick up the recently released outfielder.
Angel Pagan is likely gone for the rest of the regular season due to injury, and Gregor Blanco‘s production has been inconsistent. Brandon Belt also hasn’t given San Francisco the production they had hoped for. In general, the Giants’ offense has left a lot to be desired this year.
So taking a shot at Francoeur is a prudent move for Sabean and the Giants. He will head to AAA Fresno to get his swing back and get some at bats in, but in time he is expected to be the starting left fielder for San Francisco.
It may work out, but also it may not. Either way, this was a risk free addition for the Giants and it is types of moves like this that have made San Francisco successful in recent years. Francoeur could turn out to be a key contributor for the Giants this season. And if it doesn’t, no harm as it didn’t cost anything.
Plus between his defense and contributions in the clubhouse, Francoeur has the intangibles that are necessary for winning teams.
But either way, it is a cautionary tale for all the Puig fans out there. I’m not saying that Francoeur’s fate will be Puig’s, but it is possible. It is a reminder not to overvalue a hot start.