When reflecting on Jeff Francoeur’s playing time in Kansas City, most Royals fans will remember the enormous strike zone, poor production and seemingly endless barrage of negative ink about his play. We all know he was…not good But while everyone is piling onto the massive amount of words dedicated to his derision, let’s take a drastic detour and focus on some of the more positive things he brought to Kansas City.
Everyone knows that Frenchy has a great arm. Rany Jazeyerli accurately calls it “magical.” However, most people don’t quite understand just how good an arm he has. It’s by far the best arm in baseball. Yes, better than Shin Soo-Choo’s. Yes, even better than Ichiro Suzuki’s. When the Royals didn’t score and got their brains beat out, which has been frequent in the past few years, there wasn’t much hitting to enjoy. We certainly didn’t see a lot of home runs. The next best thing to watch was Frenchy gunning down runners from 300 feet away.
One of the most fun things to see was opposing baserunners round second base hard before looking up to see the third base coach frantically throwing up a stop sign. The runner slid to a halt, fell on his hip as he tried to scamper back to second base, and Frenchy’s throw sails directly to third base without a hop. Those plays didn’t make highlight reels because no out was recorded. It was those occasions when the baserunners didn’t bother challenging his arm that gave him some value. It was when they did challenge him that made him fun. In the outfield, he was a one man highlight reel.
Because Frenchy didn’t hit well for much of his time in KC, it doesn’t seem right to post some of his best hits and pretend that’s how he hit all the time. When managers throw around terms like “clubhouse guy,” they’re talking about guys like Frenchy, who are awesome to have around, who are fun, kind, generous, helpful and hard-working. It may not make him the hitter he wants to be, but it sure makes him fun to be around.
He was entertaining. Remember when he reached into the fan’s popcorn after chasing a foul ball? How about when he bought pizza for all the A’s fans, who dubbed their spot in the stand the Frenchy Quarter. Even better, when he was playing so badly that Yost had to bench him for the game with the A’s, Franceour showed unparalleled class buy tailgaiting with the fans who dedicated their spot in the stands to him.
And just when you need a laugh, Frenchy thwacks the sack of third base coach Eddie Rodriguez.
No one wishes Jeff Francoeur ill (in fact, if anyone does, they should really re-evaluate their morals). Yes, fans are happy that a long-overdue move was drug out painfully long because of a baffling contract extension, but everyone wants the best for a stand up guy who tries hard and cheers up the people around him. It also never hurts to be nice to someone who would make a killer color commentator for the Royals when he retires the uniform.
So, for now, it’s good luck and a fond farewell to the charming bacon-buying right-fielder. Maybe he’ll land on his feet and be especially useful for a team that needs a right-handed outfielder.