Selected ninth overall by the Rockies in the 2002 draft, Francis, now 34 years old, would make his Major League debut just over two years later in 2004. While the 4.77 ERA that Francis logged in his first stint with the Rockies (882 2/3 inning from 2004-10) doesn’t necessarily look impressive, that translated to league-average production (100 ERA+) when adjusted for the fact that Francis’ home games in that time came at Coors Field and in a much greater offensive environment than that of today’s game.
Francis tossed 183 innings for the Royals in 2011 before returning to the Rockies in 2012-13 and ultimately splitting the 2014-15 campaigns between the Reds, Yankees, Athletics and Blue Jays. Though he played for several clubs over the course of his career, Colorado holds a special place in his heart, Francis explains to Harding. He spoke particularly highly of the 2007 Rockies that rode an incredible streak — 21 wins in 22 games — to a Game 163 tiebreaker, an NLDS victory and a National League Championship.
“It was special to be able to be a champion,” said Francis. “I know we didn’t win it all, but that was a team that came together, even though I don’t know what was expected of us. We did special things in dramatic fashion. We felt unstoppable. It was almost as if the drama was too much to think about. Looking back, I’m sure there was a lot of pressure, but I don’t think we felt it. We just rode a wave and took it as far as we could.”
Francis will bring his career to a close with a 72-82 record, a 4.97 ERA, 869 strikeouts and 384 walks in 1291 innings. All told, Francis took home more than $20MM between his yearly salaries and hefty $1.85MM signing bonus out of the draft. MLBTR extends its best wishes to Francis in his post-playing days.