Jan 4, 2015

Late 2000's Mets Outfielder: Jeff Francoeur (2009-2010)

Jeffrey Braden Francoeur was born January 8, 1984 in Atlanta Georgia. The six foot four, right handed outfielder was a high school baseball & football star in Georgia. He won two titles there in both sports.

He was about to sign a football deal with Clemson, where he was going to play defensive back. Instead, Francoeur got drafted in the first round, by his hometown Atlanta Braves in 2002, as the 23rd pick overall.

He moved up through the Braves organization very quickly and in July 2005 was called up to fill in a roster spot, for an injured Brian Jordan. In his first career game he hit a three run HR, and stayed hot batting over .400 in his first month. He was part of the "baby Braves" rookie players.

In the outfield his great arm gave him 13 assists in only 67 games, third best in the majors.

In 2006, his first full season he played in every game hitting & came in third in the Rookie of the Year voting. The fans at Turner Field started his own fan club called "Francoer's Franks"

On May 13th, he hit a walk off grand slam HR, coming against the Washington Nationals. Overall on the year, he hit 29 HRs driving in 103 runs, with 24 doubles & six triples. He hit .260 and struck out 136 times, being the free swinger he was.

The next year he improved to .293 driving in over 100 runs once again. But his HR total fell off as he hit 19 HRs. Defensively he was super in the outfield, winning his first Gold Glove award. 

In 2008 he struggled, falling into a long slump & was sent back to AA Mississippi to fine tune his skills. He returned three days later due to team injuries & a shortage of players. On the year he fell to a .238 average with only 11 HRs and 71 RBIs.

By 2009 the Payer once labeled the face of the Braves franchise and “The Natural” on the cover of Sports Illustrated, was traded to the New York Mets. The trade came on July 10th 2009 in exchange for Ryan Church. Looking back, both these players came to the Mets with promise but neither panned out or were in New York for very long.

After arriving in New York he was one of the few bright spots in a horrible year 70-92, fourth place season. In his first game at Citi Field he had two hits and drove in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds. A week later he hit his first HR, and would hit five HRs with 20 RBIs in his first month as a Met.

On July 25th in Houston, he drove in four runs with a three run HR off future Met Tim Byrdak & an RBI base hit in the Mets 10-3 win over the Astros. In the course of that weeks time, he drove in at least one run in eight of ten games.

At the end of August he had a seven game stretch getting eight hits while driving in eight runs going into early September. On August 23rd he made history at Citi Field, as he hit into a game ending unassisted triple play, ending a 9-7 loss to the Phillies.

It was the first game ending triple play since 1927. From September 10th on he had eleven multi hit games in the last 22 games of the year. On September 19th Francoeur doubled off Washington's John Lannon putting the Mets ahead in the 7th inning. He later scored on in what turned out to be the winning 3-2 run.

In a late September road trip to Florida, he hit HRs in two of the three games leading the Mets to wins. He drove in three runs in the first 6-5 win & then had two RBIs in the 4-0 series ending win. He finished the season hitting .311 with 10 HRs 20 doubles & 41 RBIs in 75 games as a Met.

On the season his nine sac flies were 4th most in the league. His .997 fielding% was 4th best in the NL & his 11 assists were 5th best.

In 2010 he got steady playing time as the Mets main right fielder for the first half, until Carlos Beltran returned from his injury. At that point Angle Pagan who was in center was switched to right field & Francoeur found himself as a part time player.

It was the first time in his career he wasn't a starter & he wasn't happy with the decision. He began the year with a sac fly & an RBI double on Opening Day in a 7-1 win over the Marlins. On April 9th he hit a pair of HRs at Citi Field in an 8-2 win over the Washington Nationals.

Francoeur had a hot start with a ten game hit streak giving him a .478 average. But on April 17th he went 0-7 in the Mets twenty inning 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, which dropped his average & it fell further from there. On June 4th he singled in the 6th inning to tie a game up against the Marlins, in which helped R.A. Dickey to a 3-2 win.

Two days later he helped the Mets sweep the series with a three run 8th inning HR off Florida's Tim Wood. The HR tied the games & set up for the win with an Ike Davis RBI ground out in the 8th. In June he got his average up to .265 & drove in 14 runs in the month. In July he drove in just four runs, three of them coming on a three run HR on July 27th.

On August 3rd he hit a game winning solo HR in the 9th inning off Billy Wagner at Turner Field, resulting in a 3-2 Mets win over the Braves. Later in the week he hit a HR off Cole Hamels driving in the only run of the game, in a Johan Santana 1-0 win at Philadelphia. At the plate he fell off to a .237 average by August 31st, hitting 11 HRs with 16 doubles 10 sac flies (3rd in the NL) & 54 RBIs in 124 games played.

He was then traded to the Texas Rangers on August 29th, for their post season stretch. His outfield play in New York had been good once again, as he led all NL outfielders with 11 assists while posting a .982 fielding %.

Francoeur saw action in nine post season games in Texas, going 3-24 overall with an RBI hit in the ALDS against the Tampa Rays. He was let go to free agency & signed on with the Kansas City Royals.

In 2011 he was the Royals second best hitter behind Alex Gordon batting .285 with 20 HRs 47 doubles (2nd in the AL) ten sac hits (3rd in the AL) & 87 RBIs.

In 2012 his numbers fell of as he hit just .235 with 16 HRs 26 doubles & 49 RBIs. The strong armed Francoeur led the AL in assists both seasons & is 29th all time with 116th assists.

Overall he has led the league in that category five times ( three straight years) in right field & three times overall as an outfielder.

In 2013 he hit just .208 in 59 games & was released by the Royals. He signed with the San Francisco Giants, playing 22 games before getting released in late August. 

In 2014 he signed with the Cleveland Indians was released & then signed with the San Diego Padres. He was assigned to AAA El Paso & hit the first HR in the teams history. While playing at El Paso his team mates played a month long prank on him, pretending pitcher; Jorge Reyes was def. Reyes played up to the part for the entire time & team mate Corey Decker even filmed the whole thing.

In July he got another chance at the big leagues & would play ten games for the '14 Padres going 2-24 before being sent back down to AAA in August. He elected free agency at the end of the year & was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies for 2015.

In his  ten year career, he has 1211 hits, with 140 HRs 250 doubles 25 triples 619 RBIs & a .262 batting average. In 1237 games (1208 on the field) he posted a .984 fielding % turning 23 double plays (47th all time).

He has played in two post season (2005 with Atlanta & 2010 with Texas) going 7-41 (.171) with two RBIs. He got to the 2010 World Series playing in three games (0-6 at the plate) with the Texas Rangers.

Personal: Francoeur is an outspoken born-again Christian & wears the phrase "Joshua 1:9" referencing the Bible verse, on the strap of his left batting glove.

His family has a long line of teachers from his parents to his brother as well as his sister.

No comments: