The 10 best offensive seasons among the worst hitters of the last 30 years: #8 Jeff Francoeur 2011

frenchyOh, Frenchy. When you were 23, in 2007, it seemed like you might be a star. You posted a whopping +20 fielding runs while playing right field for the Braves. Your hitting was good enough and would probably improve. Right?

Wrong.

Despite early promise, the bat of Jeff Francoeur didn’t develop as hoped. Since his rookie year of 2005, he’s put up -86 batting runs, including 7 different seasons of at least -10. But in 2011, his first year with the Royals, he put it all together on offense. He had career highs in OBP and SLG, and also stole more than twice as many bases as in any other season.

Even that year, he didn’t walk enough and struck out too much, but his 71 extra-base hits in 153 games made a big difference. Unfortunately, his days of being an above-average fielder were behind him, and his total WAR for the season was “only” 3.1. Had he played the field as well as in past years, he could have posted the only 5+ WAR season of his career.

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David P
David P
4 years ago

Francoeur’s definitely had a strange career. He has 5 seasons above 1.0 WAR. And 4 others with -0.9 of worse WAR. Can’t think of anyone else off the top of my head with that pattern of seasons.

Doug
Doug
4 years ago
Reply to  David P

Just looking at outfielders, there’s Jose Guillen and he’s even more extreme.
– 5 seasons of -0.9 WAR or worse
– 4 seasons above 3 WAR, each for a different team
– zero seasons between 0.8 and 3.1 WAR

After starting his career with a -3.3 WAR rookie season and -5.1 WAR over his first 6 seasons, Guillen suddenly went 4.7, 3.1 and 3.6 over his next 3 campaigns (those were his age 27-29 years, so at least that made sense).

Artie Z.
Artie Z.
4 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Guillen finished 7th in NL ROY voting in 1997 with 4 points. He had very similar offensive stats to Andruw Jones, though Jones had a lower AVG and walked more, leading to a higher OBP, but Jones had a +3.3 WAR season due to +28 Rfield while Guillen had -28 Rfield. And Jones wasn’t playing CF yet.

Who will be the 2015 Rich Loiselle? Loiselle finished 4th in NL ROY voting in 1997 with 22 points (and he had a nice season with 2.1 WAR). He finished ahead of Andruw (5th) and Vlad (6th). But after that things went south.

Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
4 years ago

Posnanski, on Francoeur:

http://joeposnanski.com/jeff-francoeur-and-ant/

http://joeposnanski.com/saying-goodbye-to-jeff-francoeur/

I doubt those are the only two he wrote – for a time it seemed like Francoeur was Posnanski’s favorite topic. Those are just two that I happened to find while googling.

Hartvig
Hartvig
4 years ago
Reply to  Dr. Doom

You almost have to feel sorry for Francoeur. It’s not like he put a gun to anyones head and demanded to be ridiculously overpaid.

But at the same time he’s not blameless either. It’s not like his approach at the plate has been successful other than when he was a rookie or moved to a new league & pitchers hadn’t yet figured out his weaknesses. And changing your approach should be a lot easier than trying to retool your swing.

However I guess if he hasn’t figured that out by not it ain’t ever gonna happen.

mosc
mosc
4 years ago

Is it just me or does there seem to be an unusual number of Braves position players in the past 10 years or so that had strong debuts with the bat and just can’t sustain it.
Jeff Francoeur, Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escoabr, Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis, Andrelton Simmons. Defense aside, all these guys were expected to be better hitters than they were by the time they left Atlanta.

Doug
Doug
4 years ago

Since that one-off 2011 season, Francoeur has posted zero or negative scores each year in Rbat, Rfield, Rbaser and Rdp, with the exception of 1 Rfield in 2014 in 7 defensive games with the Padres (small sample size, evidently).

At least Francoeur is finally earning his keep. After that 2011 season, Francoeur fleeced the Royals for $13.5M for which he returned -3.4 WAR. Last year for the Phillies, Frenchy was a bargain basement $950K and cost his team only -1.1 WAR for his trouble.

mosc
mosc
4 years ago

-11.4 WAA is the active anti-leader, yes?