August 08, 2011
Kansas City Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur(notes) wowed us with his arm strength and accuracy again on Sunday when he gunned down Detroit Tigers baserunner Jhonny Peralta(notes) — who represented the game-tying run — as he attempted to advance from first to third on Alex Avila's(notes) seventh-inning single.
Without question Francoeur's dynamic assist — which effectively ended Detroit's final scoring threat and helped the Royals secure a 4-3 victory — is among the best throws and best defensive plays we've seen this season, but there has already been some debate on television on where the throw ranks in recent history and even baseball history.
Now that you've seen it, where does it rank in your mind? Is it the throw of the decade as several analysts have already suggested?
For my money, as great as Francoeur's throw was, the best two throws I've seen in the past decade came from the same player... in the same game. That being Rick Ankiel(notes), who on June 7, 2008, recorded two incredible assists as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals against the Colorado Rockies.
The second of Ankiel's two throws is hands down the best I've ever seen. I don't think Francoeur's throw touches that one, or many of the amazing pegs I've seen Roberto Clemente make on baseball films. And it certainly doesn't compare to the throw Jose Guillen(notes) once made, also at Coors Field, or maybe even the one Nyjer Morgan(notes) made over the weekend in Houston. But it was still a great throw at a critical time in the game, so for that reason alone it'll be difficult for anyone to top it this season.
As for the Francoeur's assist numbers, this was his 12th in 2011 and his 93rd overall since debuting in 2005. That leads baseball over that time period. Royals' outfielders have collectively thrown out 40 baserunners this season, which also leads baseball. In fact, earlier in Sunday's game, Alex Gordon(notes) broke the Royals single-season outfield assist record with his 18th.
Needless to say, station-to-station baseball is advised when you're playing Kansas City.
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