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2013 Colorado Rockies Player Reviews: Jeff Francis

It was an up-and-down season (mostly down), but certainly an odd one, for the Rockies' former first-round draft pick.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 Colorado Rockies had some fascinating pitching lines.

On Tuesday, RhodeIslandRoxFan reviewed Roy Oswalt's campaign, which featured terrific strikeout and walk rates but a horrible batted ball profile. Jeff Francis, another veteran who demonstrated success on the mound in the middle part of the last decade, finished with numbers that were just as mind-boggling as those of Ol' Roy.

Consider this: Francis has pitched in the big leagues for nine seasons. He's appeared in 228 games and made 216 starts. And he's never, ever struck out batters at a better rate than he did as a 32-year-old in 2013.

Did Francis discover the fountain containing youth and velocity? Probably not, although his average fastball speed of 85.8 mph was his highest since 2010. No, it's more of a combination of strikeouts being up league-wide and the propensity of hitters to swing out of their shoes against the soft-tossing lefty who leaves more than his fair share of pitches directly in the center of the plate.

Despite striking out a surprising 63 batters in 70⅓ innings, Francis' control was not always at its best. He walked 3.1 batters per nine innings, his worst base-on-balls rate since 2008 and third-worst of his career. Those extra baserunners certainly didn't help when Francis was giving up home runs in 15.6 percent of the plate appearances against him. That's an unfortunate number, but one that somebody probably had to take the brunt of considering the exceptionally low long ball rates possessed for most of the season by Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Chatwood.

When all was said and done in 2013, Francis had a 3-5 record and a 6.27 ERA. His respectable xFIP of 3.82 meant he accumulated 0.5 fWAR, but rWAR was not so kind, coming in at -0.7.

Grade with the Rockies: D

Francis, by extremely unfortunate default, was Colorado's best starter in 2012. I think most people are happy that No. 26 didn't wind up with that same distinction this season, but it was also tough to see him get battered around as much as he did.

Still, not too many folks would place a whole lot of blame on Francis for the Rockies' woes, particularly in the back-end of the rotation, in 2013. The Franchise pitched well at times, but eventually proved that he just doesn't have what it takes to succeed in such an offensive environment -- or pretty much any environment, really -- on a regular basis.

2013 - Jeff Francis 3-5 23 12 0 0 0 0 70.1 89 54 49 12 24 63 6.27 1.61


We're not talking about an extremely old guy in Francis, who will be 33 on opening day in 2014. While he might be done in a Rockies uniform after the expiration of his one-year, $1.5 million deal signed prior to the 2013 season (especially when considering the logjam of younger and higher-upside pieces the team has that can fill the type of role Francis would play), the crafty Canadian lefty will surely land somewhere, and might even make his mark at the big-league level next year.