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Crystal Ball: Jeff Francoeur

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The big question for Francoeur is this: how much will his below-average strike zone judgment hurt him? His major league performance this year was better than anything he ever did in the minors, but even so his BB/K/AB ratio is a red flag. On the other hand, Francoeur has such good bat speed that he seems able to overcome his over-aggressiveness at the plate, at least often enough to keep his numbers up. But back to the first hand, we note that Francoeur hit just .235/.273/.422 in September, a sign the pitchers were adjusting.

This Crystal Ball assumes that he will make some counter-adjustments, but won't be ready to duplicate his '05 performance overall until he's a bit further down the development road. Also, I think in the long run that Francoeur will be more of a power hitter than a batting average/OBP guy.

One further prediction: Braves fans and Francoeur partisans will complain that this Crystal Ball is too pessimistic. Hard-core statheads will complain that it is too optimistic.

Possible Comps: Dale Murphy, Jim Rice, Joe Carter.