Francoeur returns to form

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That’s the headline of this later-than-usual “Jeff Francoeur has figured it all out and is kicking butt and taking names” story from Stan McNeal at the Sporting News.  I mean, we’ve come to expect them when Francoeur gets off to his usual fast start following a chance of scenery, but late May is certainly an outlier in terms of the calendar.

That’s especially true considering this one spends the first several paragraphs with “best shape of his life” stuff. Makes me wonder if this wasn’t written in early April and inadvertently posted just now.  I dunno, maybe it got caught up in the editing process someplace.

But hey, I always love these, so why not:

He ran every day, two miles and then sprints. Lots of sprints, all by himself, outside the front door of his home in Atlanta. Eighty-yarders, shuttle-runs, gassers. That combined with healthier eating melted off the pounds. Francoeur had reached 237 by the end of last season. By February, he says he was 210. He is playing between 208-210, and the bounce in his step is hard not to notice …

… Besides his improved fitness, Francoeur has refined his approach at the plate under the coaching of Kevin Seitzer. Instead of trying to pull home runs, Francoeur is using right and right-center fields, too. He still has roughly three times as many strikeouts as walks, but he isn’t the free-swinger who went 33 games without walking at the start of his career.

Francoeur had a great April, there’s no denying that.  But in May he is hitting .247/.316/.435.  For his career he is hitting .269/.311/.430.  You tell me whether his great April performance or his May performance is more likely to be replicated as the season wears on. Thing is, he has “returned to form.”  Just not in the way McNeal means in the story.

And someone please tell me why Francoeur gets treated differently than every other ~.750 OPS player with some pop, a big swing and a decent platoon split in baseball history.

Twins to retire Joe Mauer’s No. 7

AP Photo/Jim Mone
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Twins senior director of communications Dustin Morse announced that the Twins will honor former C/1B Joe Mauer by retiring his uniform number 7. Mauer announced his retirement from baseball on November 9.

Mauer will join Harmon Killebrew (No. 3), Tony Oliva (No. 6), Tom Kelly (No. 10), Kent Hrbek (No. 14), Rod Carew (No. 29), Kirby Pucket (No. 34), and Bert Blyleven (No. 28) as Twins to have their numbers retired.

Mauer, 35, spent 15 seasons in the majors, all with the Twins. He posted a career .306/.388/.439 triple-slash line with 143 home runs and 923 RBI. He won the AL MVP Award in 2009, won the batting title three times, earned three Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers, and made the AL All-Star team six times. Sadly, his career was limited due to injuries, including a concussion that caused him to move from catcher to first base.

Five years from now, Mauer will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. There will certainly be some arguments for and against his candidacy. He retired with 55.1 career Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference, which definitely puts him in the conversation. But, as always, there’s never a consensus.