Jeff Francoeur is the highest paid non-pitcher on the Kansas City Royals roster, (sorry Billy Butler, but I don’t count designated hitters as position players). At 29 years old, the one-time prodigy has seen a lot during his eight major league seasons and stops with four MLB teams.
The kid who broke out like gangbusters with the Atlanta Braves in 2006 has had a fairly disappointing career since then. His best season since that outstanding rookie campaign in Atlanta was 2011, with the Royals. Bringing Kansas City 20 home runs, 87 RBI, 22 stolen bases and a .285 batting average gave the Royals hope that they had found a big stick and big arm in right field to build around.
But Francoeur leveled off in 2012, and seemed to fall back into old habits that ended his promising career as a hometown hero in Atlanta.
Francoeur needs to find that magic again this season, and show the Royals that he’s worth every penny of the $6.75 million he’s getting. The Royals have won 71 and 72 games in the last two seasons, and it’s going to take a team leader in the clubhouse and on the field to break the long streak of absence from the postseason by the Royals. Francoeur can be that man when he wants to be.
It makes you wonder how many more games the Royals would have won in 2012 if Francoeur had been even as above-average as he had been the previous season.
This is the year that Frenchy can dig his way out of the bottom of the lineup and get back to the middle slots where his bat can do some serious damage when it’s on. But if he follows the pattern that his career has had up until now, it won’t be long before the Royals are looking at another losing season, and another right fielder.
The pressure is off Francoeur to be the 5-star, 5-tool prospect that he once was. Now he just needs to be the solid player that he was in 2011, and help the Royals break through to a place of prominence in the American League once more.
(For the record: Francoeur went 2 for 4 in the Royals season opening 1-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox)