In two full seasons, Jeff Francoeur has averaged nearly 500 outs per season. 507 outs in 2006, which put him in the top 100 of all-time, then 477 outs in 2007. Coupled with his lack of walks, Francoeur rarely sees a pitch he doesnâ€™t like. Though he did see a few more pitches in 2007 then he did in 2006, nearly doubling his walk total. Still his 2007 walk total of 43 isnâ€™t a number to be proud of. Delving deeper into Francoeurâ€™s numbers you find more of the same — a free-swinging hacker.
Checking out his baseball-reference page, you find one bright side in all of this. At his age, he compares to Harold Baines. Okay, heâ€™s not being compared to Willie Mays, but Baines had an extremely productive career and took very few walks along the way. Another bright side, heâ€™s only going to be 24 in 2008 and heâ€™s played every Braves game of the last two years. Heâ€™s durable and he has some time to hone his strike-zone discipline.
The biggest red flag for me is 19 homers in 2007 after hitting 29 in 2006. It seems his attempt at plate discipline is coming at a price. Granted, his doubles shot up to 40 in 2007, but he does have good speed so these could have been well-placed gapers.
Another concern, heâ€™s a sexy name to breakout. Maybe itâ€™s his boyish good looks, but for some reason his average draft place and his output donâ€™t correspond. Some players annually draft higher than they should (Hey, Jeter!) and Francoeur seems to fall into this category. A dangerous category for someone with his downside. (Jeter, fortunately, doesnâ€™t offer the same downside.)
In 2008, maybe Francoeur will double his walks againâ€¦
Maybe his doubles will turn back into homersâ€¦
Maybe his BABIP will stay above his averageâ€¦
Better yet, maybe you should just draft someone thatâ€™s a bit more dependable and let someone else worry about these headaches.