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a young Frenchy.

Jeff Francoeur’s number will be retired tonight by his old high school baseball team. Francoeur will be on hand to throw out the first pitch. From the AJC:

The ceremony will begin about 6:45 p.m., after the 4 p.m. junior varsity game.

Francoeur will throw out the first pitch before the varsity game, and a replica of Francoeur’s jersey will be hung on the outfield fence next to the No. 20 jersey of former coach Hugh “Buck” Buchanan.

It’s crazy how quickly Francoeur has become an Atlanta favorite. I mean, it would be one thing if this were Albert Pujols, or Ryan Howard or Justin Morneau. But we’re talking about a guy who struck out 132 times last season on his way to a respectable, but not mind-blowing 29 HR and 103 RBI. Francoeur’s celebrity is no doubt enhanced by the fact that he’s a local guy, having gone to high school in the Atlanta burbs and come up through the Braves’ farm system. Not to mention he’s engaged to a totally adorable Georgia belle.

Still, it’s hard to reconcile all the love that gets piled on Francoeur, considering his on-the-field accomplishments are still few and far between. For the sake of comparison, Pat Burrell, who hit the same number of homers and only eight fewer RBI for the Phillies last season, is mercilessly booed by Philly fans pretty much every time he steps to the plate. And Burrell has had big seasons in the past, hitting 32/117 in 2005 and 37/116 in 2002.

The similarities between Francoeur and Burrell don’t stop at statistics. Both are favorites of the ladies, both are recently engaged, both have strong arms (Burrell has led the league in assists more than once). So why is Francoeur a hero and Burrell a goat?

The lesson here is, of course, that Philly fans are jerks and Atlanta fans are desperate for a local boy done good. Francoeur would seem to fit the bill, except that as long as he continues to wildly hack at every pitch within a foot of the plate, his OBP is never going to rise much above last year’s piss-poor .296 (Burrell’s 2006 OBP, btw, was .388).

Still, if Frenchy can sharpen his eye, learn to draw a few walks and steer clear of the Hooters waitresses, he may very well be the golden boy Braves’ fans are longing for. And if he can’t? I hear the Phillies are still looking to trade Burrell.

3 Responses to “Everybody loves Frenchy”

  1. forager says:

    Agreed… baseball execs are sleazy basards.

    Hey at least I get to watch out of market games on cable (thanks to the baseball gods, I was not going to listen to a season of Orsillo and Remy talk about how hairy the guy’s chest in the 3rd row was).

    As for Bob DuPuy – slimeball. You see, cable users were a minority of fans when they were getting 700mil from Dish but NOW that they are getting money from everyone, all fans are created equal.

    It reminds me of The Simpons episode where Homer gets arrested and tells the judge there was a misunderstanding, “I thought the cop was a prostitute!”

  2. Coley,

    Let up on Francouer man. What you didn’t notice when referencing your boys Morneau and Howard is that they are 25 and 27? respectively. Morneau, in his first two seasons, hit .271 and .239.

    Howard spent seasons shoring up his skills in the minors while fellow Phil Jim Thome blocked his ride to the majors.

    The Braves were in a position to bring Francoeur to the majors when he was 21, and he’s developing as a hitter in the league. To me, it’s impressive that, even after pitchers adjusted to his approach last season, Frenchy was still able to hit 29 homers and surpass the 100 rbi mark.

    The reasons why Braves fans love Francoeur are quite evident: he’s an elite athlete that has excelled at every level. He has a badass arm and hoses people all over the place. He hits homers and chicks dig the long ball…and dudes like his cute fiance.

    Don’t even get me started on Pat the Bat. He’s the least clutch baseball player I’ve EVER seen and he acts like a tremendous jackass.

  3. Danny O says:

    The thing to remember about Francouer is that he is a local boy who was a number one draft pick and hit a homer in his ML debut. In fact, I think it was a go-ahead homer. Local connections + goodlooks + much hype + great debut = hope for dad and moist panties for mom.

    BTW, he did catch a few boos April of 2006 when he couldn’t hit a watermelon with a yardsign. But he turned it around and had a decent year for a free-swinger.

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