When it comes to accomplishing goals, thinking you can do it is half the battle. Having others think you can do it isn't bad, either.

And that's what makes this edition of Atlanta Braves playoff baseball so interesting. Because rookie players plus youthful enthusiasm can't possibly equal the same old, same old, can it?

Especially when one of those rookies is Gwinnett's very own Jeff Francoeur.

People throw tags on Francoeur all the time - he's the next Chipper Jones, he's the future of the Braves, etc. - but one label the outfielder will never tire of is "winner."

When the game is on the line and the money is on the table, we figure Francoeur will get a hit, steal a base or throw the tying runner out at the plate. It's unrealistic of course, but to paraphrase George Strait (one of Francoeur's favorites): We've come to expect that from you.

And that's my point. This year, this improbable season that has seen the Braves overcome injuries by using 18 rookies en route to their 14th consecutive division title, has seen a change in the attitude of the fans.

No longer is the cry "Why" but "Why not?" The Baby Braves have not only energized the veterans, but the fan base as well. Which is why this year's playoff push seems more fun and less fatalistic.

Call it the Francoeur Factor.

Yes, I know he's hardly the only rookie who has made a big contribution this season. Heck, his roommate, Duluth's Brian McCann has been great, as have numerous others. But Francoeur always has been and always will be a leading man and this is no different.

The fans are drawn to him, his winning personality and championship pedigree

making them believe he'll always come through in the end. And like I said, that's half the battle.

Francoeur's legend was built at a very different level, one where Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte weren't the opposing pitchers. But the confidence he built then, that ability to know he can accomplish his goals no matter how lofty, is very real. Just like the numbers he put up this season.

Even so, you wouldn't think a rookie (or a bunch of them) could walk right into the postseason and treat it like a region tournament. Then again, no one ever got rich betting against Jeff Francoeur.

I learned that again at his major league debut. Walking into Turner Field, I tried to keep our photo editor, Anthony Stalcup, from having too high of expectations. I explained to him how tough it could be, how Francoeur might struggle in his first few games.

Then he capped his debut with a dramatic home run.

Now come the playoffs. And while your brain says these young guys can't do it, your heart says, "Why not?"

Todd Cline can be reached via e-mail at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com . His column appears on Tuesdays.