Friday, July 4, 2008

Frenchy Goes South

Atlanta Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur has been sent to Double-A to work on his hitting. One of the reasons I picked the Braves to do well this year was the anticipated improvement of Frenchy, but he has been a huge disappointment, hitting just 234 / 287 / 374 with 8 home runs. It seems to me that he isn't really doing that poorly: his walk rate is bad (and down a bit from last year) but still above his career average; his K rate is easily a career low; his line-drive rate is at a career high, and his BABIP should be around .320 (it's only .265); he's swinging at balls out of the strike-zone less. Given all that, Francoeur should be doing better this year, but he isn't. The main problems I see (statistically) are that he is swinging at pitches in the strike-zone a lot less (the goal of walking more may actually be causing him to take more strikes instead of putting good swings on them) and, perhaps relatedly, a continued drop in power. Frenchy's ISO has gone from .249 to .189 to .151 to .141, which is now below average. His HR/FB has likewise gone down every year. Maybe the Braves should just accept the kind of player he is and let him swing away. I'd take 260 / 320 / 450 over 280 / 330 / 400 any day.

[I looked for a Braves blog that addressed the issue beyond "finally" or "I hope he comes back soon" or something like that, but couldn't find one. Not that they don't exist - I just don't know where they are.]

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