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Royals will face new "Jeff Francoeur" this season

The new Francoeur is a member of an AL Central team.

He's definitely gritty and close to the dirt.
He's definitely gritty and close to the dirt.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Francoeur is likely still trying to catch on with a team somewhere. It appears that team is the Philadelphia Phillies, whose dire situation will lead to interesting decisions. The Royals don't face the Phillies this year in the regular season, so when I say "new" Jeff Francoeur I'm not referring to "actual" Jeff Francoeur. I don't think I'm alone in saying that I wouldn't mind seeing Frenchy back in Kansas City in a different uniform, but there probably aren't many other people in the room with me.

Indeed, I am referring to someone else. His name is Danny Santana. He's the new Jeff Francoeur. He plays shortstop for the Minnesota Twins. Career stats to follow. Santana has only 430 PA in his one partial season.

Name BB% K% ISO
Jeff Francoeur 5.0% 18.3% 0.156
Danny Santana 4.4% 22.8% 0.153

Santana has struck out a bit more so far, but the overall profile is similar. Now compare their rookie seasons.

Danny Santana 430 7 4.4% 22.8% 0.153 0.405 0.319 0.353 0.472 133 5.0 20.6 -4.3 3.3
Jeff Francoeur 274 14 4.0% 21.2% 0.249 0.337 0.300 0.336 0.549 127 0.8 10.1 11.2 3.0

Frenchy, in his partial season, offered significantly more power than Santana. However, they both had low walk rates, high strikeout rates, and high BABIPs that inflated their overall offensive contributions. Francoeur was rated as a better defender, but Santana was rated as a better baserunner at a much more difficult position. Their overall value, as you can see by the WAR totals, was very similar.

Their batted ball profiles differed significantly, however. Santana hit a bunch more line drives and ground balls than Francoeur, who hit plenty of fly balls and pop ups. Francoeur swung more and whiffed more than Santana did, so the similarities don't really go deeper than results. The process is relatively different.

However, when defining a player, which matters more: results or process? We usually think process, but results don't always follow process because baseball is random even over 162 games. Similar results, different process. Similar future. Santana is due for a big crash just like Francoeur was. Despite Santana's speed, his line drive rate will probably come down to average because that's what we expect 95% of hitters to do. He hits a bunch of grounders, so his ISO probably won't hover around average for long. Also a .405 BABIP. You bloody well know that's not going to last.

When Santana crashes, he at least has other tools on which to fall back. Santana plays shortstop, so he's immediately a more valuable defender. Santana is also fast, so he'll steal some bases. Francoeur isn't much of a basestealer*, and we're intimately familiar with the piano strapped on his back in right field.

*Obligatory reminder that Jeff Francoeur stole 22 bases in 2011 with the Royals, which represents 42% of his career total.

There aren't really many more words one can say about Francoeur's career due to its unfortunate demise. There aren't really many more words one can say about Santana's career due to his age. Just look forward to a relatively free-swinging guy playing against the Royals this year, even if his name isn't Francoeur.

Santanacoeur 2.0.