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Francoeur to be given the green light to steal

Mar 19, 2010, 8:28 AM EDT

Francoeur Mets.jpegMets fans OK with this?

Francoeur says he never learned how to steal bases with the Braves,
explaining that it wasn’t part of Atlanta’s offensive philosophy. But
it is part of Manuel’s plans. So this spring he’s told Francoeur he
wants him to run more, and now the Mets right fielder is trying to
learn how.

Francoeur is 15 for 30 career in stolen bases. He’s right that stealing was never anything he was asked to do in Atlanta, so I suppose it’s possible that he could do it if he works at it a bit.

But isn’t it also possible that, since running was never part of the Braves’ strategy, his opportunities to do so as a Brave came in only the safest situations (e.g. against horrible throwing catchers and in really favorable hitter’s counts)? If so, couldn’t that mean that he’s an even worse base stealer than that not-acceptable 50% success rate suggests? Chipper Jones isn’t any faster than Francoeur and he’s a career 76% base stealer. Andruw Jones is 71%. Marcus Giles 73%. We’re obviously not dealing with tremendously large sample sizes here, but I think don’t think we can say that Francoeur’s 50% caught stealing rate is meaningless simply because the Braves run less than everyone else.

More generally, and not to put too fine a point on it, it strikes me that you’d want to keep the game as simple as possible for Jeff Francoeur. Trying to teach him some plate discipline should be priority number one, but beyond that, let the dude just try to hit it as hard as he can and hope for the best.

  1. JE - Mar 19, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    No, I am not ok with this, Craig, but thanks for sharing. No, really. Reading about Jerry and Frenchy is *exactly* what I needed to see first thing on a gorgeous Friday morning….

  2. ditmars1929 - Mar 19, 2010 at 8:41 AM

    “Never learned how to steal bases”???? Is he fucking kidding? Aren’t we talking about a professional baseball player at the major league level and a fundamental aspect of the game? This is like a master chef saying he never learned how to properly whisk an egg. What a loser, which probably explains why he now plays for the Mets.

  3. Joey B - Mar 19, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    Did you know that Bench once stole 23 consecutive bases? While maybe he doesn’t have to become a base staler, you should be able to steal on a pitcher that falls asleep.

  4. BC - Mar 19, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    If he’s going to (presumably) be batting fifth or sixth, why the heck would you want him to run anyway. And heck, Don Baylor (yes, that Don Baylor) had a season where he was 52-for-64, and I could probably outrun him (might be due to the fact that Baylor is now 61 years old, though).

  5. JC Bradbury - Mar 19, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    I’ve often thought Jeffy’s inability to steal bases demonstrated that the Braves rushed him (among other things). He didn’t spend long enough in the minors to work on it, and this was exacerbated by the fact that he got on base so rarely that he didn’t get a chance to work on it while he was there. This guy was recruited to be a safety by top college football programs, so he must have had the speed.
    After watching Francoeur try to steal bases, I have to say that it looks about as ugly as a turkey flying. For a guy who supposedly oozes natural ability, he has no intuition of how to steal bases (just the hearts of teenage girls and sports writers). The Braves may not have taught him how to steal for they same reason they never taught Johnny Estrada. And possibly, he had other things he needed to work on that were a little more important, like hitting.

  6. Ron - Mar 19, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    Because most of the guys batting sixth, seventh and eight aren’t going to hit for a lot of power, which means doubles as well as homeruns. It is a lot harder to score from 1st base on a single than it is from second base on a single.
    This is sound baseball reasoning, and the guys batting fifth, sixth and seventh need to run as much as, or more than, the guys at the top of the order.
    As far as his percentage not being accurately represented due to the sitation of the attempts, that is probably true. But some of those were probably busted hit and run plays, and might not have been optimal steal sitatuions, so it all probably evened out.
    He’s probably good for 12 stolen bases in 20 attempts, which dependent on situation, could be good, or could be bad.

  7. Zayas - Mar 19, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    This is a bad idea!

  8. JE - Mar 19, 2010 at 9:16 AM

    Batters hitting fifth and sixth with speed and good baserunning instincts should attempt to steal more frequently if they are hitting in front of players who are slugging-challenged.

  9. BC - Mar 19, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    Some video of Francoeur in action (scroll about 1/2 way down the page):

  10. Paul C - Mar 19, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    That’s an awful lot of words for something that most likely will not amount to .5 runs either way throughout the course of a season. I hate that Francoeur is on the Mets as much as any Mets fan can but now you’re just nitpicking.

  11. enough already - Mar 19, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    For what it’s worth, I think it’s fair to say that Francoeur is still an unknown quantity. He raised his average 20 points after the move to NY last year and most of that was on an injured thumb. This comment not withstanding, he’s been a stand-up guy in NY and taken a lot of media heat away from David Wright. Give the guy a chance. Or did you stop watching last year because you knew the season was over?

  12. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Mar 19, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    He raised his average 20 points after the move to NY last year and most of that was on an injured thumb.

    His walk % was also the second lowest of his career, with the lowest GB% ever. While both may be statistical outliers, they are both trending in the wrong direction.

  13. YankeesfanLen - Mar 19, 2010 at 11:04 AM

    If Frenchie could be taught to steal, the net effect is that the Mets would strand him on second instead of first anyway.

  14. Smit - Mar 19, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    SB’s is a craft…not something you just learn over your years playing little league/college/minor leagues. How to swipe a base is not a fundamental! Ask any good basesteeler and they will echo that.
    I’m would say i’m sure there is no way to know..but baseball is full of statistics so maybe i’m wrong…. Is there anyway in that small sample size to take out the times he was left out to dry on a hit and run or victim of a pitch out? Maybe even toss out succesful steals in a 9th inning where they didn’t throw to 2nd to balance it out. Including those stats seem to make a small sample size completely irrelevant. Probly no way to do it but it would at least make these calculations meaningful.

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