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Jeff Francoeur: A Football Player Playing Baseball



By Mike Silva ~ July 19th, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Mets.

One of the biggest disappointments for the Mets in 2010, at least in my opinion, is Jeff Francoeur. Despite some of his struggles in 2008, I figured a change of scenery would help him rediscover his offense from 2005-2007. I knew full well his plate discipline was poor, but with experience comes maturity and perhaps a second chance would force Francoeur to make the necessary adjustments. Plate discipline was the only way he would fulfill his potential and maintain starting status in this league. Alas the “disciplined Francoeur” lasted about two weeks in April, eventually reverting to his Atlanta form, leaving the 2008 Francoeur in his stead. The Mets could live with subpar offense behind the plate, especially with the defense Barajas/Blanco provide, but the corner outfield position has been a black hole since May 1st, which is doubly punishing due the injury to Jose Reyes and lack of punch from second base. Why is a talented player like Francoeur unable to grasp some semblance of plate discipline? No, the answer doesn’t lie in the numbers, but in his personality. Francoeur’s personality is wired more for football than baseball.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since he played football in high school. Think about what wires Francoeur: aggression, passion, and intensity. Those are often traits of a great football player. His high school coach Cecil Flowe believes that Francoeur would have been an NFL first round pick if he pursued football over baseball. As a junior in high school, he caught 14 touchdowns as a receiver and intercepted 15 passes as a safety. If he had gone to Clemson, who offered him a scholarship, he would have played defensive end, strong safety, or wide receiver. Ironically Francoeur believes both sports complement each other and success in one couldn’t happen without the other:

“Football made me a better baseball player, and baseball helped me play football,” Mr. Francoeur said. “They coexist. Football gives me the intensity I need when I’m playing baseball. But in baseball, you have to be able to relax and let the game come to you, and that helped me in football.”

Alas, relaxing and letting the game come to him hasn’t happened on a consistent basis. If Francoeur learned that lesson he would be more disciplined at the plate and undoubtedly a great hitter. He has the skills necessary to play the game, but his mindset is more intensity and aggression, something that needs to be tempered on the baseball field.

Adam Rubin reported earlier today that Francoeur’s playing time is about to be “drastically diminished” with a slew of right handed pitching facing the Mets. He didn’t have much of an impact against lefties Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez this weekend making my “Pagan-Coeur” platoon idea look silly.

Jeff Francoeur got his second chance in New York. Yes, he is only 25, but I suspect he is staring at a backup role already in his career. His numbers indicate you have a good defensive outfielder that can hit lefties, but is too streaky for everyday work. That doesn’t scream $5 million dollars a year in a good economy, in a bad free agent market, well you get the picture.

Unlike many in the unforgiving Mets fan base I don’t hate Jeff Francoeur. His attitude and personality embodies the right kind of spirit you need on a team. Unfortunately his production renders much of that useless and he is too expensive to just come in for defense. Perhaps Francoeur should have gone to Clemson. Over there he would have learned the obvious: He is a football player playing baseball. A round peg in a square hole. Unfortunately everyone seems to see it but Jeff Francoeur himself.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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3 Responses to Jeff Francoeur: A Football Player Playing Baseball

  1. LCG

    good stuff. agree on all fronts. i like frenchy…but he is what he is…

  2. spike

    His numbers indicate you have a good defensive outfielder that can hit lefties, but is too streaky for everyday work.

    Which numbers are you referring to here? Defensively, UZR and +/- are both negative for 2008 – 2010. Offensively, he does have a platoon split, but so does most every other righty that ever played, and it’s not like his are particularly hard to come by for a RH OF.

    The you are able to attribute so many of his failings to having played football is interesting, because a vast number of current MLBers played football in high school, many, many of them quite well, and yet manage somehow to overcome this. I would have thought he was just a pedestrian hitter who never had much hitting success in the minors, and rode a 2 month hot streak and a fine throwing arm into a 5 year career in the bigs. How did you reach this conclusion, and how do you account for the numerous counter-examples?

  3. Mike Silva

    Spike

    I was referring to his approach, he has a football mentality at the plate. The other players adjusted (key word) and Francoeur has not. Remember, those numbers are not DNA induced, but behavior and skill based. Maybe he isn’t as good as everyone thinks, but he has hit lefties well in stretches.

    If you click on the link it goes into detail of his football career. It’s a theory worth discussing IMO.

    Regardless, I think we have seen the last days of Francoeur in a Mets uniform as trade winds appear to be blowing.

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