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Is the end here for Jeff Francoeur?

Aug 21, 2013, 12:40 AM EDT

Jeff Francoeur Getty Images

Maybe someone will pick Jeff Francoeur up for their bench after the Giants designated the 29-year-old outfielder for assignment on Tuesday, but it’s far from a given. His former habit was to hit like gangbusters whenever he joined a new team, but in San Francisco, he came in at .194/.206/.226 with no homers and four RBI in 62 at-bats.

Francoeur has played nine seasons in the majors with a .263/.306/.419 line. That’s not too shabby for a middle infielder, but for a corner outfielder, it’s certainly not getting the job done. In fact, of all the guys to last so long in the bigs, one could say he ranks among the worst corner outfielders of all-time.

By OPS+, here are the worst corner outfielders to amass 4,000 plate appearances:

88 – Don Mueller (4,593 PA from 1948-59)
90 – Shano Collins (7,045 PA from 1910-25)
91 – Jeff Francoeur (4,959 PA from 2005-13)
92 – Cliff Heathcote (4,972 PA from 1918-32)
93 – Glenn Wilson (4,468 PA from 1982-93)
95 – Michael Tucker (4,686 PA from 1995-2006)
96 – Jim Rivera (4,008 PA from 1952-61)
97 – Juan Encarnacion (5,095 PA from 1997-2007)
98 – Johnny Wyrostek (4,785 PA from 1942-54)
98 – Pete Fox (6,169 PA from 1933-45)

Baseball-reference’s WAR, which factors in defense and baserunning, isn’t a whole lot kinder. It rates him as the 14th worst corner outfielder to amass 3,000 PAs and the 6th worst to amass 4,000 PAs. Here’s the list with the 4,000 PA cutoff:

3.6 – Don Mueller (1948-59)
5.6 – Dante Bichette (1988-2001)
6.0 – Al Zarilla (1943-53)
6.4 – Jose Guillen (1997-2010)
6.9 – Jim Rivera (1952-61)
7.4 – Jeff Francoeur (2005-13)
7.6 – George Browne (1901-12)
7.6 – Tommy Griffith (1913-25)
8.0 – Michael Tucker (1995-2006)
8.8 – Juan Encarnacion (1997-2007)

Both the raw stat and WAR rate Mueller as the worst of the corner outfielder. Mueller was actually a two-time All-Star for the Giants in the ’50s. He led the league in hits with 212 in 1954, his age-27 season, but he quickly fell off the table from there and was particularly dreadful in his last two seasons as a regular. Plus, since he never walked and had limited power and speed, he was never all that valuable in the first place.

Francoeur has also had his moments. In fact, he’s been a three-win player three times of his career, according to WAR. Unfortunately, his WAR for his other six seasons is a -2.2. These last two years, he’s at -3.6. His power has deserted him on offense, and he lacks range in the outfield, though he still possesses a very good arm. At this point, there’s nothing to recommend him over a dozen veteran outfielder scattered around Triple-A. He’s going to have a difficult time landing more than a minor league contract this winter, and he might find that his best bet to continue playing is to head to Japan.

  1. raysfan1 - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:05 AM


  2. asimonetti88 - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    Dante Bichette was actually pretty decent for a few years there.

    • dan1111 - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:20 AM

      Ahhh, the good old days of Coors Field: in 1999 Bichette hit .298/.354/.541 with 34 home runs, and that made him: an average hitter! (102 OPS+)

  3. misterj167 - Aug 21, 2013 at 1:18 AM

    I love Frenchie but jeebus he could never avoid swinging at the worst pitches

  4. gerard33 - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:35 AM

    Jose Guillen, Michael Tucker and Francouer, 3 of those guys have played for the Royals in the last 10 years!

    • dan1111 - Aug 21, 2013 at 4:38 AM

      What sets these players apart is not that they were bad, but that they played for so long despite being bad. That requires either terrible talent evaluation or a terrible team that doesn’t have better options.

      I’m not saying the Royals combine those two attributes, but maybe they should change their name to the Kansas City Perfect Storms.

      • biasedhomer - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:13 AM

        Or, more likely, the player actually had a decent season here and there. Francoeur was pretty good in his 1st year with they Royals and he showed promise offensively and defensively in his rookie year with the Braves. Plus he’s only 29 years old after playing 9 years in the MLB, so there was the “potential” factor that intrigued teams.

  5. RoyHobbs39 - Aug 21, 2013 at 6:53 AM

    Next Frenchie headline: “Francouer trying to revive his career in the Northern League as a pitcher.”

    • jwbiii - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:41 AM

      That would be a neat trick since the Northern League folded three years ago.

      • jkcalhoun - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:14 AM

        As did Frenchy.

  6. wpjohnson - Aug 21, 2013 at 7:12 AM

    Francoeur, regardless of the analysis, has been good for baseball. He is a good man and superlative in regard to fans. He deserves our thanks rather than the scorn of the number crunchers.

    For example, he may not go down as as successful on the field as someone like Jayson Werth but you can be sure that, unlike the Werths of the world, the fans will remember him in a positive way.

    • dan1111 - Aug 21, 2013 at 7:39 AM

      Thanks for a very thoughtful comment. Far too often, players get the blame for what is really a failure of management.

      • neoshweaty - Aug 21, 2013 at 11:28 AM

        How is his lack of baseball skill a fault of management? Or are you referring to the fact that multiple teams have continued to hire him? Because I would agree.

        He just simply isn’t very good. Great man by all accounts but not particularly a good major leaguer.

  7. ochospantalones - Aug 21, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    Ruben, put down the phone. No! Ruben! Don’t do it!!

    • commonsenseisnotcmonman - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      you know it will happen, although I might prefer him over seeing Mayberry in the outfield everyday just on principle…

  8. ponchorides - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    I can’t believe Jungle Jim Rivera belongs on this list.

  9. commonsenseisnotcmonman - Aug 21, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    Biggest surprise to me is that Frenchy is only 29, I could have sworn he was in his mid to late 30s….

    • jerseygirl57 - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:22 AM

      Commonsense, I thought the same thing. I feel like he’s been around forever. He must have come up really young.

      • pbastille - Aug 21, 2013 at 9:42 AM

        or he’s secretly Dominican /s

  10. Old Gator - Aug 21, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Don’t worry about Frenchy. Your career is never over as long as you can say maguro nigiri ni pon ku ra sai.

  11. sportsfan18 - Aug 21, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    He is a nice guy, good teammate etc.. He tried hard, played hard… It wasn’t as if he loafed, sat back and just collected a paycheck.

    He was good enough to get to the bigs, but not to be a star…

    He’s made over $25 million in his career and if it ends now, hopefully he’s saved enough to be able to do whatever it is he wants to with his long life in front of him as he isn’t even yet 30 yrs old…

    Thanks for trying and for your effort on the field Jeff…

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