Columnist John Harper of the Daily News hits on one of the main concerns about the Mets new closer Frank Francisco who does not hold runners on well.
Terry Collins is well aware of the problem and says it’s “because they know Frankie doesn’t throw over.”
“It’s something we’re working on,” Collins said.
Obviously this is a huge concern, especially for an end-game reliever – who will be frequently called into a game with runners already on base.
Base-stealers were successful in 13 of 14 attempts against Francisco last season, and over the last four seasons base-stealers were 33-for-36 against Francisco.
Apparently, Francisco’s problems are well known. Harper writes:
A few phone calls to scouts confirmed that its no secret around baseball. Teams run on Francisco at first opportunity, and they bunt on him at times too, believing he’s not comfortable making throws — especially shorter ones — to bases. “It’s pretty common knowledge,” said one scout.
Meanwhile, a player who played against Francisco in the American League said “everybody knew” that the reliever has had trouble making throws.
Compounding the issue is something else which Harper did not include in his article, but I thought was worth mentioning…
In 70 career save opportunities, Francisco has 21 blown saves. That adds up to a very disconcerting 70% conversion rate for his career.
More troubling than that is his four-year decline in opposing OPS:
- 2008 – .634 OPS
- 2009 – .639 OPS
- 2010 – .681 OPS
- 2011 – .721 OPS
Francisco’s strikeout rate, which is still good, has also been in a 4-year decline. These are not exactly the kinds of trends you want to see from a player who just signed a two-year, $12 million dollar deal to be your closer.
This could all mean something or it could mean nothing at all, but it certainly bears watching.