Last season the Kansas City Royals were hoping for another good season from Jeff Francoeur after he looked revitalized in 2011. Instead, the Royals were supremely disappointed as it looked like Francoeur reverted back to the player he was with the New York Mets and Texas Rangers before joining the Royals.
In 2011, Francoeur hit .285/.329/.476 with 20 home runs, 87 RBI, and 47 doubles. He looked rejuvenated. Last season, however, he reverted and hit just .235/.287/.378 with 16 home runs, 49 RBI, and just 26 doubles. Something was clearly off with Francoeur last year.
With outfield prospect Wil Meyers traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for James Shields the Royals will have to hope once more that Francoeur has another good season in him while they wait for Bubba Starling who is still a couple of years away from his MLB debut.
Francoeur, 29, isn’t exactly old despite 2013 being his ninth season in the Majors. He still is young enough to turn it around and contribute for a few more years and the Royals might need him to be given the lack of depth they have in the outfield.
At the current moment, the Royals will feature an outfield of Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Francoeur. Jarrod Dyson, all speed and no pop as his one MLB home run suggests, looks to be the fourth outfielder. The Royals need Francoeur to be more like his 2011 self and not his 2012 self.
To be fair, the entire Royals offense seemed to take a step back last season. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas didn’t emerge as the consistent offensive threats they were hoped to be. Only Billy Butler and Gordon offered any consistent offensive production.
The Royals offense might see an improvement this year if they get a full season from Salvador Perez behind the plate and Hosmer and Moustakas make necessary adjustments. Francoeur also has to step up. There is no reason to think that the Royals offense won’t improve. Hosmer and Moustakas should continue to improve this season. Butler and Gordon are consistent performers and Perez is a .300, 20 homer threat from behind the plate. With an improved offense Francoeur should see better pitches to hit.
Of course, if Francoeur doesn’t hit the Royals could put Dyson in the outfield, hope he can put the ball on the ground consistently, and watch him steal his way to second and third.
Ultimately, Francoeur will hit closer to his 2011 numbers than his 2012 numbers, the Royals will win a few more games and get above .500 for the first time in what seems like a million years and hope will have its place again in Kansas City.