Fun fact: did you know that both Juan Francisco and Edwin Encarnacion played third base for the Cincinnati Reds in 2009?
At first, Francisco seemed like a steal. He crushed baseballs a long way. He more or less played third base, back in the spring when the Jays were scoring so many runs that it didn’t matter whether they fielded the ball or not. He wore those lime green wristbands that probably glowed in the dark. He seemed to be an integral part of a team on its way to the postseason.
Then, unfortunately for Francisco, the league figured out what he couldn’t hit and, naturally enough, kept throwing it to him. In August, he went 6 for 46 (.130). By September, he wasn’t playing at all; his playing time had been taken over by Danny Valencia. He was released by both the Jays and the Red Sox in the offseason, and is now in the Tampa Bay organization.
(Speaking of third base: at some points during the season, the Jays had a whole bunch of present or former third basemen on the roster: Francisco, Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie, Encarnacion, Steve Tolleson, Valencia. Jose Reyes could probably have played there too if he’d had to.)
Valencia, by the way, has the same name as the third-largest city in Spain. Which leads me to wonder: how many other players have the same name as major cities? Tyler Houston, Darryl Boston, and a whole bunch of guys named Washington come to mind. There’s also Al Alburquerque, which isn’t quite the same as Albuquerque, but is pretty close. (Wikipedia informs me that the extra “r” is the Spanish spelling, and the current city name is the Portuguese spelling. So there you go.)
Valencia the player must have been a bit unhappy in 2014: he was traded away from the Kansas City Royals in mid-season, and they went on to the World Series without him. What a bummer! He didn’t put up good numbers in Toronto, but partially that’s because he can’t hit right-handed pitching: this year, he batted .211 against righties, but a whopping .321 against lefties. Over his career, the numbers are similar: .226 against righties, and .327 against lefties. John Gibbons is a pretty smart guy, and by now he’ll have figured this out; look to see Valencia in a platoon role in 2015.