Mike Francesa

WFAN host Mike Francesa was off the air Thursday, and he says he had a pretty good reason why. Francesa returned to the air Friday to say he missed Thursday’s show (and a planned road trip to broadcast from Cleveland, the site of the Yankees-Indians American League Division Series) thanks to food poisoning that had him vomiting all day. Here’s the clip, via Funhouse:

“I apologize for not being there yesterday, I was planning to go to Cleveland, and I don’t know, just got unlucky. I got food poisoning on Wednesday night and for 12, 14 hours, there was nothing I could do except be throwing up. And in one day it’s gone, hopefully gone, it feels like it is. I don’t know where it came from, it was just an unlucky occurrence, but it kept me from having to make a trip to Cleveland, which I was all, I had already made reservations, hotel, plane, and everything, and I had already sent Monz (producer Brian Monzo) ahead, so it was not a good situation, but nothing could be done about it. So we’re back today.”

That’s certainly unfortunate, and it’s good to hear that Francesa is feeling better. It’s also good to have him back so he can return to his “I never said that!” ways. One of the stars of the MLB postseason so far has been the Astros’ Jose Altuve, who became just the ninth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a postseason game Thursday. (He then had two hits and two walks through seven innings Friday.) Last summer, caller Jeff in Newburgh asked Francesa if he didn’t think Altuve was one of the best players in the game, and Francesa said Altuve hit too many doubles (?!) and didn’t score enough runs.

“I’m not knocking him, but don’t tell me he’s one of the best players in baseball, because he’s not. He’s not one of the best players in baseball. Cano is, because Cano scores 100 runs and knocks in 100 runs. Altuve scores 80 runs and knocks in 50 and gets his 200 hits. Cano’s one of the best players in baseball, not Altuve. There’s a difference. Altuve’s a nice player. Cano’s a star. Big difference, I hope. Maybe you learned something. I hope.” He then cuts off the caller by going “Ohlalalalalala.”

On Friday, Tim in Milford called in in the wake of Altuve’s three-home-run performance, and Francesa insisted he never said what he said about Altuve “two years ago.”

“When we discussed that two years ago, Altuve was a guy who had a very low on-base percentage and hit no home runs. Since then, he has become a guy who hit 25 home runs and raised his OPS 200 points. When he had a .750 OPS, he was not a great player. When he has a .980 OPS because his on-base percentage is now .420, he is a different player. He is a completely different player the last two years. His OPS has gone up 200 points. Just like Daniel Murphy, he became a power hitter and he became very selective and he got on base a lot. Now he’s got a high on base and he’s hitting home runs. He’s a different player.”

There are a bunch of factual problems with this, though. For one thing, Altuve has never had a season-long .750 OPS; the closest was his .740 in 2012. In 2015, when Francesa claims he had this take, Altuve’s OPS was .812. His OBP was .353. And he hit 15 home runs. In 2016, when Francesa actually had this take, Altuve had an OPS of .928 and an OBP of .396, and he hit 24 home runs. He also finished 10th in AL MVP voting in 2015 and third in 2016, so “one of the best players in baseball” isn’t farfetched. And while Altuve has been even better at the plate this year (a .410 OBP with a .957 OPS and 24 home runs), it’s not like this came out of nowhere the way Francesa claims (especially considering that Francesa bashed him last year, when Altuve was already well on his way to a high-OBP, high-OPS season).

And comparing Altuve to Robinson Cano is interesting, especially considering that Francesa only used flawed counting stats that have a lot to do with teammates (runs scored and RBIs). Francesa’s current logic with OBP and OPS makes more sense, but that wasn’t really his past argument, especially considering that he made this argument in 2016. And what if we use wins above replacement? Cano was worth 7.3 WAR last year according to Baseball Reference, but just 3.4 in 2015 and 2017. Altuve was worth 4.2 in 2015, 7.8 in 2016 and 8.1 this year.

Francesa isn’t wrong that Altuve has become a better player, but that change since 2016 (when he was already pretty dominant) isn’t that huge. While the change since 2015 is larger, Altuve was still a solid player (and arguably better than Cano) even then. But all analysts are wrong from time to time, and players do change. The funnier part here isn’t that Francesa was wrong, it’s how far (in keeping with his usual approach) he’s willing to go to insist he wasn’t:

Welcome back, Mike. We’re glad to be again able to keep track of your defenses of things you never said.

[Funhouse on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing.