Tagged: Jeff Francis

Kansas City Royals Buy Low on Jeff Francis

By Tommy Rancel //
Looking to fill a vacancy in their 2011 rotation, the Kansas City Royals signed former Colorado Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis.
The one-year pact comes with a $2 million guarantee and could be worth
$4 million with incentives. The signing comes with a small risk, but
could end up rewarding Kansas City for their minimal gamble.
Francis. 30, missed all of 2009 recovering from shoulder surgery
(torn labrum). He returned to make 19 starts (20 appearances) in 2010, going
4-6 with a 5.00 ERA. With a career 55-50 record, and an ERA that sits at
4.77, Francis is not coming to Kansas City to replace Zack Greinke‘s production.
But he could be a league-average or better starter for the Royals.
Though his ERA in over 100 innings of work last season was 5.00,
advanced metrics suggest his pitching performance was closer to that of a
3.75-4.00 ERA.
The biggest issue for Francis in 2010 was stranding baserunners. His
left-on-base percentage (LOB%) was 64.5%. The league average is
generally around 72%, and Francis’s career mark is 70.5%. With outside factors
such as defense contributing to a pitcher’s LOB%, it seems Francis was a
bit unlucky here.

Francis’ style is that of a classic soft-tossing left-hander. His
fastball tops out in the high-80s, and he doesn’t rack up a ton of
strikeouts. In fact, he has largely been below average in the punchout
category. What he does do well is locate his average stuff and generate a
lot of groundballs. In 2010, he posted the highest groundball rate of
his career (47%) in addition to regaining what velocity he had before
the surgery.

Since he has no one particular strength, Francis has to do a couple
of things well in order to earn a rotation spot in fantasy leagues.
Outside the main concern of health, Francis must maintain his stellar
history of keeping baserunners to a minimum with a good walk rate.
Moving from Coors Field for Kauffman Stadium could also have a positive
effect on his home run rate. With the potential for a positive ERA
regression, the one-time 17-game winner becomes a buy-low candidate at
the end of AL-only drafts. You can leave him undrafted in standard mixed