All-Joy Team: Debaucherous Hitter

It’s neither heaven, nor Iowa: it’s the All-Joy Team!

On today’s episode: Debaucherous Hitter.

Sensical? Not entirely. Intriguing? Duh!

DH: Juan Francisco, Cincinnati

I neither subscribe to, nor am I able to advocate, that ethic described most commonly as the Work Hard, Play Hard lifestyle. Ideally, one needn’t distinguish between his work and play. Ideally, one enjoys his work to such a degree that he needn’t “play hard” so’s to — as famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot would say — “blow off ze steams.” Obviously, this is a rare feat. To pay da billz, we’re often required to perform the tedious*. But even in such cases where one must toil grievously to bring home the bacon — or some other, similarly delicious pork product — there still oughtn’t be a need to send oneself into oblivion.

*Like wash David Appelman’s car, for example. Sheesh, that guy.

That said, there are times when unbridled hedonism is called for. There are times when it feels good to find oneself awake at 5:30 a.m., having imbibed all manner of adult sodas, musing recklessly on life, the universe, and everything. Not every weekend, obviously. (That would be trouble both for one’s liver and career prospects.) But once or twice a year, maybe, it feels good to loosen one’s collar and behave irresponsibly. There’s something cathartic about it that allows the reveler in question to return to bidness as usual after the episode (and subsequent hangover) have passed.

Juan Francisco, I will argue, is the baseballing equivalent of such a catharsis.

For the sabermetrically oriented, Juan Francisco represents basically the antithesis of an ideal batter. His approach at the plate is precisely the opposite of that one employed by most successful major league batters. Over 1982 minor league PAs, Francisco has struck out 442 times (22.3%) while walking only 72 (3.8%)*. He did sport a career-high 0.22 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 464 Double-A PAs last year, but to call that improvement is damning with the faintest of praises. In short, Francisco possesses almost nothing in the way of plate discipline, and even though he’s young, he’s got more than a couple miles to go before his hacking ways sleep.

*Let CHONE do the talking: Francisco’s projected to bat .262/.290/.467 this year.

Yet, one thing he does have is power*. And that power, combined with his recklessness, is, in some way, the reason to watch him. Is Francisco likely to be a great help to Cincinnati this season? No. Nor, were I a Reds fans, would I care to see him anywhere near the big league roster. As a neutral supporter and card-carrying member of the Fidrych Institute, though, the Reds’ win-loss record is of little concern to me. (And, seriously, Francisco poses much less a threat to the Reds’ prospects than Dusty Baker.) Really, all I care to see is Francisco. He won’t walk softly (or at all, really), but he certainly carries the big stick.

*Watch from about second 21 of this video. More than how far he hits the ball, it’s his crazy follow-through that gets me.

With Francisco, the All-Joy Team now looks as follows:

C	Kurt Suzuki
1B	Brian Myrow
2B	Kelly Johnson
3B      Alex Gordon
SS	Ben Zobrist
LF	Chris Heisey
CF	Ryan Sweeney
RF	Daniel Nava
DH      Juan Francisco
UTIF	Adam Rosales

SP	Billy Buckner
SP	Jason Godin
RP	Brandon League
RP	Kevin Jepsen

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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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