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McCann I Say Something, Francoeurly Speaking

David Pinto at Baseball Musings points out that the Braves recent upturn has coincided with Jeff Francouer getting hot. And that got me thinking about the two guys from Atlanta who are hitting back to back in the batting order tonight against Arizona - Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur (hitting fifth and sixth respectively). In watching each of these guys in their first two at at-bats, there is such a disparity between the ways they approach a plate appearance.

I don't know if I've talked about how much I like Brian McCann, but he might be my favorite Brave these days. He plays hard, but doesn't put any of that fake Greg Jeffries-esque effort into it. Already at his young age he's a great backstop with an accurate as hell throwing arm. But at the plate, his swing is the perfect balance between Adam LaRoche's huge sweeping arch of the bat and Dave Magadan's sleepy punch at the ball. McCann's approach at the plate seems to be to meet the ball with a slight upper cut that finishes across his body instead of over his shoulder - an under control swing. And he's selective, he takes the walk when it's offered.

McCann's approach at the plate is a patient one, but not an overly patient one that lets good pitches go by. His strikeout to walk ratio throughout his minor league career has gotten better each year. And it's going to continue to improve in the majors.

In the Minors:
Year - BB - SO
2002 - 10 - 22
2003 - 24 - 73
2004 - 31 - 54
2005 - 25 - 26

In the Majors:
Year - BB - SO
2005 - 18 - 26
2006 - 11 - 12 (after the first two at-bats tonight)

But Francoeur, he is the all swing, at all pitches, all the time. And it seems like the times he has had the most success, have been the times when he has been the most patient at the plate - patient, for him. Here are his strikeout to walk ratios, for comparison:

In the Minors:
Year - BB - SO
2002 - 15 - 34
2003 - 30 - 68
2004 - 22 - 83
2005 - 21 - 76

In the Majors:
Year - BB - SO
2005 - 11 - 58
2006 - 1 - 31 (after the first two at-bats tonight)

Draw your own conclusions.

And seeing these two guys back to back in the order - one patiently working the count and waiting for his pitch, the other swinging at everything within a four foot radius of the plate - this compounds the frustration that I feel for some of the at-bats that Francoeur has. Naturally, I love EVERY plate appearance for McCann - so polished at such a young age - but to see Francoeur come to the plate next and swing, swing, swing - if he even get's that many swings - is trying indeed. Francoeur seems like he could be hitting 50 points higher if he had even an ounce of the patience and selectivity that McCann has at the plate.

I guess I bring this up because I just wonder, these guys are supposed to be such good friends, you'd have thunk that the conversation about the joy of getting walked X number of times in a game has been brought up by McCann. Certainly now he's talking about how it's a "pretty cool feeling" to lead the league in batting. You'd have thunk.

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