It’s a small sample, certainly, but the numbers say Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur, a notorious free-swinger, is showing significantly more plate discipline through the season’s first 12 games.
Analysis by stats master Bill James, on his website (www.billjamesonline.net), shows Francoeur is on pace to set career bests in highest percentage of pitches taken and lowest percentage of swings and misses. He also is putting balls in a play on a higher percentage his swings – i.e., not merely fouling off pitches – than at any time in his seven-year career. And these numbers don’t include a three-for-four performance Friday in a 6-5 victory over Seattle.
"I would love to say that I’ve figured something out.", Francoeur said. But, really, it’s Seitz. I owe that to Seitz. There’s no doubt about it.""I would love to say that I’ve figured something out,” Francoeur said. “But, really, it’s Seitz. I owe that to Seitz. There’s no doubt about it. The one thing he’s got me doing is looking for a certain pitch in a certain zone. And if I don’t see it there, just let it go.
Think of it as channeled aggression.
“The one thing you can never do is take a hitter’s aggressiveness away,” hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said. “All I preach is to be aggressive in a zone. But the guy has to want to buy in, and he’s bought in from the beginning. He’s completely on-board.
“It’s not just being aggressive on a pitch. You can’t just be aggressive on a fastball. You have to get a fastball in an area, and then go. You’ve got to be ready for it, expecting it – and if you see anything different than that, you’ve got to shut down.
“He’s shut down on pitches that he’s chased in the past. He’s seeing the ball better. That all comes from the approach.”
Can Francoeur maintain it?
“If he doesn’t hit .280,” Seitzer said, “I’ll be shocked. He’s that good. He’s got a very gifted swing. He’s got a short stroke and good bat speed. And he hits a breaking ball extremely well. I’ve told him, `Your best days are ahead of you.’”
By BOB DUTTON and TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star