Even though the Kansas City Royals aren’t in a position to actively tear down or discredit the merits of one of their players – one of their starting position players, no less – the level with which they’re willing to go over and above to speak about the wonders that is Jeff Francoeur is really quite remarkable.
It isn’t like Royals fans haven’t been through this before. Tona Pena Jr. was heralded for his defensive genius, and that genius “made him a more-than-suitable every day shortstop” in the major leagues. It didn’t.
Yuniesky Betancourt was acquired the first time (!) in a trade because the Royals felt (well, we can only assume this is how they felt) they were buying low on a starting caliber shortstop with the potential for an elite glove and the occasional production at the plate. He wasn’t. Betancourt was then acquired for the second time (!!) because of some kind of attitude that the team and coaches really liked, and they thought would be helpful and willing to except a backup role. Again, he wasn’t.
In all, each of these scenarios were, and are, entirely understandable. There’s no reason for a team to be open and honest about how bad a player is, even when the stats prove the case. But, when the defense of those stats is predicated on some mythical understanding of the World of Baseball, well then there’s an issue. And that is the territory we’ve entered into with the Royals.
A recent press conference about the 2013 Royals and the acquisition of two pitchers at the expense of Wil Myers (the obvious and eventual replacement for Francoeur in right field), took an expected turn. Questions were asked about the status of right field with the implications that a team going “all in” can’t possibly be unaware of the damage they’ve done to the offense by trading the replacement for what was one of, if not the, worst players in baseball a season ago.
Now whether or not you believe trading Myers at this point in The Process was a shrewd move (it wasn’t, really, given all the dynamics) or not isn’t the point. The point is that Dayton Moore and the Royals have so convinced themselves, so brainwashed themselves, so believe in the unicorn that is Jeff Francoeur, that they are willingly aligning their reputations with him by being so steadfast in their commitment towards him.
Which would be fine, if some sort of objective measure did the aligning. It’s not. Francoeur is a “winning type player” despite the fact that he’s played on more teams in his career that have lost 90 games than haven’t. Despite the fact that he was once traded in mid season from a team, and then that team played nearly 10-wins better without him. Despite…well you get the idea.
And so, here are just a handful of statements about Jeff Francoeur, factual statements, about his career in the major leagues. No editorial comment accompanies these statements other than to say simply: they are facts and are easily acquired by a couple of mouse clicks and pivot tables.
- Jeff Francoeur fWAR rank among all right fielders since 2008: 2008: 22nd of 22; 2009: 23rd of 25; 2010: 22nd of 26; 2011: 14th of 23; 2012: 22nd of 23.
- Jeff Francoeur fWAR rank among all outfielders since 2008: 2008: 62nd of 62; 2009: 57th of 62; 2010: 54th of 62; 2011: 33rd of 62; 2012: 56th of 57.
- Since 2008 the only right fielders with 1500 plate appearances or more with a lower SLG than Jeff Francoeur: Kosuke Fukudome, Ichiro Suzuki, Ryan Sweeney, and Mark Teahen.
- Since 2008, of all outfielders in baseball with 1500 plate appearances or more, there is only one with a lower wRC+ than Jeff Francoeur: Mark Teahen.
- Since 2008, Jeff Francoeur ranks last of 62 qualified right fielders in Win Probability Added, at -9.66. Next to last is Austin Kearns at -5.21.
- Since 2000, among right fielders with at least 2000 PAs, Jeff Francoeur ranks 71st of 73 in wOBA. Rob Mackowiak is higher.
- From 2000-2012, there have been 183 players play in at least 1000 games, Jeff Francoeur ranks 163rd in fWAR.
- Francoeur has 84 stolen base attempts in his career. During that same time, 114 players have at least 80 stolen base attempts. Francoeur is second-to-last with a 58% success rate.
- There have been 521 outfielders receive at least 4000 plate appearances since 1900, Jeff Francoeur ranks 502nd in OBP.
- From 1900-2012, 1,202 players (all positions) received at least 4000 plate appearances, Jeff Francoeur ranks 1,078th among them in OBP.
- In 293 games as a Royal, Mark Quinn had 2.7 fWAR. In 301 games as a Royal, Jeff Francoeur has 1.7 fWAR.
- In seven full major league seasons, Jeff Francoeur has been on a team that has lost at least 90 games, four times.