Sunday, June 07, 2009

Tommy Gregg was Better

I've gotten to the point where I get angry every time Jeff Francoeur comes to the plate. I'm resigned to the fact that this Braves team is pretty good, but nothing special. However, I feel my blood pressure start to rise when Francoeur comes up. He seems like a nice guy who is popular in the clubhouse, but I struggle to come up with examples of athletes in any sport who are so bad at their basic job functions and yet continue to get the opportunity to suck.

Right now, Francoeur is 145th out of 150 players in terms of VORP among NL position players with 100 or more plate appearances. By that statistical measure, he has cost the Braves 6.9 runs as compared to what a replacement level player would produce. If you prefer OPS, he is 80th among 89 qualifying NL position players. This comes on the heels of a season in which he was 133rd out of 134 players in terms of VORP among players who got 324 plate appearances.

Jeff Francoeur is the equivalent of a pitcher with an ERA north of seven. For instance, Francoeur had a VORP of -16.9 last year, meaning he cost the Braves 16.9 over what a replacement level player would have done. By way of comparison, Greg Reynolds of the Rockies had a VORP of -16.8. His ERA was 8.13. This year, Brad Lidge has a VORP of -6.7, which is comparable to Francoeur's number. Lidge's ERA is 7.27. If Francoeur had an ERA starting with the number seven, there is no way in the world that he would get the ball every fifth day for one season, let alone a season and then the first two months of the next. The fans in Atlanta (yes, even Atlanta) would go bananas if Francoeur were a pitcher, getting torched every day. Because we don't get upset about position players making outs in the same way that we do pitchers failing to get outs, the necessary pressure has not been applied. Thus, Bobby keeps trotting out one of the worst players in the Majors with apparently no thought to benching him or even platooning him.

And I think I'm about to say something that I never, ever, ever thought I'd say: where is Terence Moore when we need him? When evaluating the inexplicable patience afforded Francoeur, the facts that he's good-looking, local, and white have to be considered. The Braves do have to deal with a somewhat tepid fan base in Atlanta, one that was spoiled by success for 14 years. I see how they might have some reticence in dealing harshly with Gwinnett's finest. But for the love of G-d, how many more rallies must our rightfielder butcher before someone, anyone, gets a shot in right? How many more opposing pitchers are going to get to pitch an extra inning because one Braves hitter always hacks at their first offering? Frank Wren, you had a good week last week. Let's build on it.


Caelus said...

I have been a big Jeff Francoeur fan since he first burst on the scene. He is a great presence in the clubhouse and he busts his butt in the outfield.

But I have to agree that it is time for him to go as he has become a black hole in the Braves lineup. Whether it is Terry Pendleton's inability as a hitting coach or Francoeur is braindead as a hitter or both, I dont see him ever coming out of it.

I may be dreaming but maybe we can package either Vasquez or Kawakami with Jeff in a deal to get an outfielder with some pop. McLouth has been a nice pickup but the Braves need even more.

MLT said...

a game to make you feel better. this is what I do.

when Francoeur comes up each time I first predict aloud what I think will happen:

So versus a righty sinkerballer: a strike out.

then when he gets out (regardless of the method). I say aloud "yay Francoeur. You're f--king terrible!"

it makes me feel a little better.

klinsi said...

Looked up from my tacos last Tuesday to see Francoeur with a 3-0 count and immediately thought it was a typo. Then he walked on 4 pitches and I fell off my barstool . . . . .

AuditDawg said...

You're not alone in your Franceour sentiment. To this day I still don't understand why pitchers ever throw him anything over the plate. I'd keep throwing him sliders off the plate in the dirt until he proves he can be patient.

It just drives me up the wall because if you look at his stats, he is infinitely better when he gets ahead of the pitcher. But instead, he'll just keep hacking at that first pitch no matter where you throw it. He's eventually going to become worse than Andruw Jones in that respect. Those two are guaranteed rally killers.

JR Suicide said...

fuck Gwinnett. send him to AAA and they can watch him there.