Assist leader Francoeur can earn distinction for KC

Assist leader Francoeur can earn distinction for KC

DETROIT -- This year, Jeff Francoeur leads the Major Leagues with 19 assists; last year, Alex Gordon led with 20. If Francoeur finishes first -- and he should, because he has a five-assist lead over his nearest competitors -- the Royals will earn a distinction.

They would become the first team since the Red Sox to have back-to-back big league leaders in outfield assists and that goes way, way back. Tris Speaker led in 1909 with 35 assists and Harry Hooper tied in 1910 with 30 assists, matching the Washington Senators' Clyde Milan.

The last team to have back-to-back leaders outright, with no ties, is the St. Louis Cardinals -- Dick Harley in 1898 had 26 assists and Emmett Heidrick in 1899 had 34. (Although that was before they were called the Cardinals; in 1898, they were the Browns, in 1899, the Perfectos.)