Are Platoon Splits Hurting Jeff Francoeur in Clutch Situations?

Crazy eyes, of course. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

I was looking at Jeff Francoeur's splits this morning and saw this:

 

Split PA H HR SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS tOPS+ sOPS+
High Lvrge 149 36 2 9 2 .267 .315 .356 .671 74 88
Medium Lvrge 179 40 6 8 4 .250 .318 .444 .762 94 109
Low Lvrge 200 55 7 2 2 .302 .345 .549 .894 125 149
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/22/2011.

 

Now, as a loyal stathead, I expected his leverage stats to be a) mostly random and if anything b) in the reverse, since just about all hitters do better with men on base (and those situations frequently have high leverage numbers). As you can see, those numbers above don't fit that data: the higher the leverage, the worse Francoeur has hit.

Don't take this as a FRANCOEUR ISN'T CLUTCH !! post, because I don't believe clutch guys or chokers really exist. Although, I wonder if a less beloved figure had stats like these, if we wouldn't have heard something about it already. However, Francoeur does have a pronounced lefty/righty split: he's an all-star against lefties (.369 OBP, .588 SLG) and a typical '00s Royal against righties (.313 OBP, .419 SLG).

Is it possible that it is simply too easy for opposing managers to exploit this platoon split in later innings?

 

Possibly, but here are Francoeur's late inning numbers:

 

Split PA BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
5th inning 45 .372 .400 .628 1.028 .385 159 180
6th inning 75 .288 .293 .493 .786 .311 97 106
7th inning 48 .349 .396 .674 1.070 .414 168 198
8th inning 62 .280 .403 .400 .803 .467 110 134
9th inning 45 .222 .333 .306 .639 .269 68 93
Ext inning 16 .250 .375 .333 .708 .273 87 93
Innings 1-3 170 .248 .282 .420 .703 .264 78 95
Innings 4-6 188 .291 .319 .497 .816 .309 106 118
Innings 7-9 155 .287 .381 .465 .846 .388 118 145
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/22/2011.

 

I don't see much to support the notion that Francoeur is getting exploited by rightly-relievers that much late in games. He's actually better, in terms of pure innings, later in the game. To really get at the heart of this, we'd need to look at Francoeur's career numbers (more data) and specific situations one by one. That's a homework assignment, I suppose.

Overall, I think the safest conclusion is that Francoeur's leverage stats are just random. Carry on.

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