KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 20: Jeff Francoeur #21 of the Kansas City Royals reacts as Alex Gordon #4 slides safely into home plate on a dropped third strike as the Royals defeat the Chicago White Sox 2-1 in extra innings to win the game on July 20, 2011 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
2011 really couldn't be more about anyone else than Jeff Francoeur. The huddled internet masses, the swinish multitude loathed by Lee Judge and others, were ready to attack Francoeur's arrival (in December 2012) from the beginning, and that we did. We talked about his leadership, we talked about his self-comparisons to Hall of Famers, we talked about his crazy eyes. Stunningly, despite my predictions, he was not quoted in the team story about remembering 9/11.
We talked about the downside of the legend of his leadership and we tried to apply his lessons to our own troubled lives. And baseball, yes, we even talked about his baseball. Even his platoon splits and clutch high-leverage numbers. I hoped he would be traded, but that didn't happen. Francoeur was a key cog in the Royals arm-based outfield, a rare bit of non-horrible team defense.
In my favorite turn, hours after "Giving Credit to Jeff Francoeur" appeared on RR, the Royals announced his two year contract extension, which you all had quite a lot to say about.
This is how it is with Francoeur and I'm as powerless as anyone else to fight it. He can't ever just be the player -- and in 2011 he had one of his better seasons, posting a 119 OPS+ and a 2.7/2.9 WAR -- he's always so much of everything else. For 2012 however, with his contract in place and more interesting players on the team, I hope, however much in futility, that we can avoid the vortex of Francoeur commentary. 2011, however, was his.