Friday, August 26, 2005

High Expectations?

Just a little while ago I did a write-up on the Braves Rookies, which you can find here, and I mentioned a 21-year-old kid named Jeff Francoeur. Now many of you may have seen, as I did when I went to a news stand, that this week's issue of Sports Illustrated has that very same kid on it. He's the first Brave to appear on a cover since they won the World Series in 1995. That means Furcal's Rookie of the Year award (2000), Chipper Jones' MVP award (1999), or even Smoltz's 55 save season couldn't get the most prominent Braves their, not even the 13 consecutive division titles earned the team a cover issue.

So why this kid? Well his start is unprecedented. Only one player has ever come in this late and played this well, this long. Willie "Stretch" McCovey only, marginally, maybe even came close in 1959. McCovey hit .354, 13 HRs, 38 RBIs, and had an OPS of 1.085. Now Francouer, projected through the day SI went to press, will hit .370, 21 HRs, 64 RBIs, and have an OPS of 1.105. Also add 9 outfield assists in his first 31 games, that's just crazy. So by these standards that is Rookie of the Year for sure. Crosby barely had these numbers last year, and he played more than twice as many games as Frenchie will in his rookie season. That's why there is hype around this kid, and is it well earned? Well yes and no. Yes because he's playing at a level many big leaguers aren't at the moment. No, because there is a list of players that includes the likes of Mark Fydrich, a Detroit Tigers phenom, that burned out and never played the same as they did their rookie year. Now I would assume that this won't happen to Francoeur, unless he gets hurt, because his skill set is so tremendous. Heck, give the kid the attention he deserves, as he is getting it now, and we'll see him play for many more years, perhaps Cooperstown in 25 years or so. I think this kid is special, just watch him play for a couple of games and I think you'll raise the same opinion.


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