KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 7: Jeff Francoeur #21 of the Kansas City Royals singles to drive home Eric Hosmer in the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Kauffman Stadium on June 7, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)
After a hot start, the demise of Francoeur continues to haunt the former promising slugger.
For one month, it was a feather in Dayton Moore's cap (if he wears one). After all, the universal opinion surrounding Moore's free agent acquisition of outfielder Jeff Francoeur in the off-season was that it was a predictable move. It was also a laughable one. It was derided across the Internet, and was mostly an afterthought -- a once promising player signing with the guy who was enamored enough with him in the first place. Then came April.
It seemed Jeff Francoeur was somehow reborn. It was the same Francoeur who hit. 300 in his rookie campaign for Atlanta at age 21. It was the same Francoeur who hit 29 homers in his first full season the next year in 2006. Francoeur seemed to be another great Atlanta find, a young power hitting outfielder whose best years were yet to come. Then came the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say.
Francoeur's inability to get on base eventually haunted him to Rob Deer-like proportions, and eventually the once favored son was traded to the New York Mets in 2009. That lasted one year until the Mets unloaded Francoeur to the Texas Rangers where he surged upwards once again, showing life amidst new surroundings while batting .340 in 50-plus at-bats. He'd done the same in New York, so a trend was developing -- Francoeur does well at first. Perhaps KC should have had fair warning then that things might turn out this way.
April had to make Dayton smile for those 30 days. After all, Francoeur was doing his thing once again, wowing fans early with a .314 average through the first month of the season and a .926 OPS to go with it. He drove in 20 runs with 15 extra-base hits that month and it seemed that perhaps a reunion with Moore on a low-pressure team like the Royals was just what he needed. But the fog that always comes eventually faded as the 2011 season began to settle in, and Francoeur hasn't been the same since.
In fact, the Royals downward trajectory comes around the same time that Francoeur really started to lose his grip. In 13 games in June, Francoeur has had two walks and his overall line is .250/.281/.346 for the month. Those are miserable numbers -- the type KC has come to expect from its shortstop position, not a corner outfielder. He's hitting .182 in the last two weeks and .067 in the last seven days. In other words, things are only getting worse.
Stats will eventually level off and Francoeur will hit his home runs, drive in a few and fail to get on base. In other words, he'll do the exact same thing that was expected of him before the season started. Perhaps the Royals had a hole to fill, and Moore certainly looked justified for those first four weeks of the season. But ultimately, Francoeur has turned out to be what most believed the Royals were getting in the first place. And that's unfortunate for Francoeur, since the beginning was so promising -- not only here in Kansas City but for his entire career.