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A tale of two very different seasons for Keppinger, Francoeur

Jeff Keppinger is still without a trip to the postseason. But it certainly wasn't the veteran infielder's fault that the Tampa Bay Rays didn't make it this season.

The former Parkview and University of Georgia standout batted .325 with nine homers and 40 RBIs in 115 games. He had a .367 on-base percent thanks to 24 walks and struck out just 31 times.

Keppinger was at his best in the second half as the Rays chased the New York Yankees and Baltimore in the American League East, eventually falling three games short of a wild-card spot.

The right-handed hitter batted .369 in August and .316 in September, finishing with a .332 average after the all-star break.

While Keppinger had a banner season, fellow Parkview graduate Jeff Francoeur had his worst major league average. The Kansas City outfielder hit .235 as he fell way short of his production with the Royals the year.

With a season remaining in his contract, Francoeur appears to be at a crossroad in Kansas City. But Keppinger may have finally found a home with Tampa Bay.

Signed by the Rays as a free agent, the Dacula area resident played third, second -- his normal position -- and first in addition to serving as the designated hitter.

Keppinger, who turned 32 in April, got an opportunity for extra playing time because of the hamstring problems of third baseman Evan Longoria. But he also missed time himself in May and June because of a broken big toe on his right foot.

The big season at the plate boosted Keppinger's career average for eight seasons to .288, but he is still without a playoff appearances.

Keppinger was dealt from Houston to San Francisco last season, boosting his chances. But the Giants didn't make it back to the postseason after winning the World Series the year before and he wasn't tendered a contract for 2012.

But the Rays gave Keppinger a one-year deal for $1,525,000 because of his ability to punish left-handed pitching and he did just that again, batting .376.

Francoeur, 28, had a rebound season a year ago with Kansas City, hitting .285 with 47 doubles, 20 homers, 87 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. But he didn't come close to matching those numbers this season after signing a two-year deal worth $13.5 million to remain with the Royals.

The former Atlanta first-round draft choice drove in just 49 runs as he fell to 28 doubles and 16 homers. He was also caught seven times while stealing just four bases.

The .235 season at the plate dropped the Duluth resident's career average for eight seasons with the Braves, New York Mets, Texas and Kansas City to .266 and his RBI total was his worst for a full season.