Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Home Town Kids

So the Atlanta Braves, counted out by so many people because of big holes are doing it again (knock on wood). It seems to be almost entirely due to John Smoltz, Andruw Jones, and everybody's favorite, the baby braves. The Braves have been carried this past month by a rookie, Jeff Francoeur, or "Frenchie". Francoeur has been unbelievable hitting .360, 10 HRs, 28 RBIs through his first 31 games, an almost unprecedented start. The biggest knock against Frenchie is that he hasn't walked in almost 120 ABs. Yes, that's usually a bad sign of things to come, but this kid is different. He was in the minors for 2.5 years and there is no existing scouting report on him that is accurate. This leaves a lot of clubs guessing how to pitch to him and this late in the season most won't see him but for a series. I'm not saying that the kid will hit like this the rest of his career (otherwise he'd end up with 1200 HRs after 20 seasons) but I am saying that the kid can and will adjust. His entire plate philosophy is "see the ball, attack the ball, and put it in play." Its working, and until pitchers find a whole I would encourage the guy to keep freeswinging, as he is, and enjoy his sucess. To top off this dream start Francouer has 9 outfield assists in ONLY 31 games. Its amazing that teams still try to run on him. I guess the remember the replay of him launching it to the backstop over McCann's head. Of course Jeff Francoeur is not the only rookie, in fact he's one of 9 or 10 I have seen play this year. Brian McCann has been solid behind the plate and is hitting about .280. Ryan Langerhans (OF) and Kelly Johnson (OF) have been up for most of the season and have taken turns contributing. Another suprise is Jorge Sosa, who never amounted to much until he met Leo Mazzone. Sosa had a career losing record and a career ERA over 5.0. This season he has been a magician working out of nail-biting jams every time he goes out, however he is 6-2 as a starter with a pretty decent ERA. Don't count the rest of the NL East out yet, the Marlins have thrown 3 consecutive shut-outs, and all the other teams are still in the Wild-Card race. The Braves need to get Hampton straightened out, Thompson out of the rotation, and Sosa back into it. This will be down to the wire for the NL East champs.