Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Disappointment in Pete

The subject of this post is Pete Grathoff's Saturday article regarding Jeff Francoeur. If you haven't read Pete Grathoff's article, you can read it here. If you've never heard of Pete Grathoff, then you are not unlike myself.

First off, let me just say that yes, the general premise of the article is correct. A team can make the playoffs with a player like Jeff Francoeur. Let me go on to say that I do expect Jeff Francoeur to be better in 2013 than he was in 2012. Although, I don't expect him to be that much better.

Back to the article, which I don't think should be taken seriously as a quality piece of sports writing. Actually, when I think of what the article represents, I think of Pete writing it up to try and salvage a last bit of pride after his friend tore him apart in a debate over Jeff Francoeur's value. What probably happened was Pete was defending Francoeur saying things like: "well, he's got a great arm and was a Gold Glove finalist" or "come on, he wasn't that bad" and of course Pete would have said something like "well metrics can't quantify Jeff Francoeur's intangibles."

Of course, by the end of the argument Pete probably felt as though he had been beaten down. In a last ditch effort to save face he wrote an article as a way to save face. Pete likely remembered his friend triumphantly saying "See! The Royals cannot make the playoffs with Jeff Francoeur on the team!" This was the line that Pete kept dwelling on. As he sat down for dinner it played through his head. As he showered the thought kept ringing in his mind.

Eventually, he said to himself "Well dammit! I am going to look at the sabermathematics thing ma-bobs and I'm going to prove to my no-good dirty rotten pig stealin' friend that the Royals can make the playoffs with Frenchy!" And that is what he did.

So Pete poured through the Wins Above Replacement numbers for each of the teams that made the playoffs. Eventually, he found two teams that had players with worse rWARs than Jeff Francoeur. Of course, he couldn't do this with fWAR, because there were no players with worse fWARs than Francoeur, but I digress. The two teams that he did find were the Detroit Tigers with Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young and the Texas Rangers with Michael Young.

Now that the article has been written, it appears that Pete's got us beat. I don't see why we are all complaining about Frenchy so much. It has been proven that the Royals can make the playoffs with a player as dismal as 2012 Francoeur. Although, we should all ignore the fact that outside of Michael Young, the Texas Rangers had one of the most talented rosters of the decade. Let's also not forget that despite their talented roster they lost the division by one game and were forced to play in a one game playoff that ultimately led to their premature elimination. Hey Pete, how many WAR was Michael Young worth again? You can put down your calculator, it was around -1.

Oh, I'm sorry Pete. I forgot about the Detroit Tigers. You know the team with the top 3-4 combination and best pitcher Major League Baseball. The clear preseason favorites in the American League Central. The team that almost pissed it away thanks to the performances of Boesch and Young.

Ultimately, the problem with this article is the undertone that the Royals shouldn't be concerned about Frenchy because other teams have made the playoffs with similar blackholes in their lineup. The obvious difference between Kansas City and the aforementioned teams is that both of those teams were World Series favorites entering the season and the Royals are on the peripheral of contention.

The Royals absolutely can't afford to be complacent at any position. Kansas City has to seek to improve anywhere they can, even if it is marginal. Right field is one area in which the Royals could upgrade simply by subtraction. Royals fans aren't claiming that it is impossible to win with bad players. But Royals fans are smart enough to realize that this team can't afford to cut any corner. Hopefully, a Kansas City Star writer can understand that.

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