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Jeff Francis Season Preview

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Left handed, Jeff Francis comes to the Royals as a free agent after 7 seasons with the Rockies.  Jeff's time with the Rockies is a tale of two different periods.  From 2005 to 2007 he started 99 games and went 44-32 while accumulating 9.9 WAR.  In 2008, he began to experience shoulder problems and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder thereby missing the entire 2009 season.  From 2008 to 2010, he has only be able to start 43 games with record of 8-16 and accumulating 3.5 WAR.

Let's begin looking at him by starting with a list of his Major League transactions:

 

Date Transaction
01/14/11 Signed as a free agent by the Kansas City Royals to a one-year contract.
09/12/10 Missed 27 games (left shoulder injury).
08/14/10 Left shoulder injury, 15-day DL (retroactive to August 12).
05/16/10 Missed 36 games (sore left shoulder).
04/03/10 Sore left shoulder, 15-day DL (retroactive to March 26).
04/05/09 Left shoulder surgery, late September.
08/06/08 Missed 31 games (left shoulder inflammation).
07/02/08 Left shoulder inflammation, 15-day DL.
03/17/07 Suspended by the MLB for 5 games.


First off, the 5 game suspension was for throwing behind a batter in a spring training game.  Who says spring training doesn't count?  He went on the DL for the shoulder and finally had surgery in February 2009.  The scary part is that he went on the DL twice in 2010 after coming back from the surgery.  Shoulder surgeries are tough to come back from and he is still having issues.  If I was the Royals front office, I would be elated to get 20 starts out of him this season.

Now lets more on to his stats:

 

Season G IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP WAR
2004 7 36.2 7.85 3.19 1.96 0.309 75.9% 44.3% 16.0% 5.15 5.29 4.31 0.3
2005 33 183.2 6.27 3.43 1.27 0.339 69.4% 37.7% 11.2% 5.68 4.74 4.62 2.2
2006 32 199 5.29 3.12 0.81 0.270 68.9% 44.7% 7.9% 4.16 4.38 4.78 3.6
2007 34 215.1 6.9 2.63 1.04 0.316 74.7% 44.4% 10.0% 4.22 4.19 4.26 4.1
2008 24 143.2 5.89 3.07 1.32 0.305 70.7% 43.6% 12.1% 5.01 4.81 4.55 1.6
2010 20 104.1 5.78 1.98 0.95 0.320 64.5% 47.0% 10.1% 5.00 3.88 3.94 1.9


In 2010 his ERA was over a point higher than his FIP and xFIP.  This difference and his high BABIP (0.320) can partially be explained by porous Colorado defense which was 23rd in the league at -28.4 UZR.  He may be right at home with the Royals defense behind him.

Now here are his pitches and that speeds that he throws for those pitches:

 

Season FB SL CT CB CH
2004 64.0% (87.9) 9.5% (78.0)   14.1% (77.6) 12.4% (80.0)
2005 65.1% (88.5) 9.4% (79.2) 0.1% (84.0) 11.6% (75.4) 13.7% (81.3)
2006 64.9% (86.0) 2.4% (78.6) 0.1% (83.7) 12.1% (71.5) 20.5% (78.9)
2007 60.1% (86.6) 0.9% (78.6)   14.4% (71.7) 24.6% (79.5)
2008 61.0% (86.8)     13.2% (70.7) 25.8% (78.8)
2010 61.5% (87.2)     13.7% (72.6) 24.8% (79.2)


Jeff's fastball doesn't reach over 90 MPH and he relies on his breaking stuff to get people out.  Even before his surgery, he quit throwing his slider and now only throws fastballs, curves and changes.  Here are the run values per 100 pitches (positive value is better) for his pitchers:

 

Season wFB/C wSL/C wCT/C wCB/C wCH/C
2004 0.18 -1.53   -8.23 2.88
2005 -1.39 -0.38 -1.65 0.39 0.16
2006 0.17 1.38 -3.69 -0.52 1.44
2007 -0.31 0.19   -0.02 1.42
2008 -0.76     0.61 -1.01
2010 -0.29     0.78 -0.24


No real surprise that his off speed and breaking pitches are his better pitches.  He totally reminds of Bruce Chen, injured junk ball pitcher, but has actually had a better career so far.

My feeling is that Jeff Francis will be one of the two best pitchers (Luke the other) for the Royals in 2010 if he can stay off of the DL.  I would gladly take a repeat of his 2010 season.

And he is Canadian.