Regardless of how many factors are considered, it boils down to the fact that Francis (17-9, 4.22 ERA), who is in line to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, has become a heavyweight among NL starters.
But try making him say that.
"I'm really proud, and it's not just me," Francis said. "It's the way the team rallied behind me, the way they hit the ball, the way they played defense. I don't do anything without them behind me. That means a lot to me. They play for me -- as well as me for them -- when I'm out there."
Francis has excelled without the benefit of eye-popping fastball velocity. "As soon as I signed my pro contract, I stopped caring," said Francis, the Rockies' top Draft pick in 2002 out of the University of British Columbia. In fact, his best fastball has been missing during many of his strong performances this season.
Francis has displayed the most consistent changeup of his career, and his breaking pitches have been great at times, too. It's not one pitch as much as it's Francis' ability to understand what's working for him, and what's frustrating the opposing hitters.
"You try to be aware of as much as you can," Francis said. "You're not going to know what the hitter is doing by his reaction, but you can pick up things here and there.
"It's more important to be aware of what you have going that day -- whether it's a changeup or a curveball or a fastball in a certain location. You try to be aware of those things and use them when you need to make an out. That's the ongoing learning process."
To accelerate the learning process, Francis writes down his reflections on his mechanics and strategy after each start.
"I think calling it a diary is so teenage -- it's more of a log or a journal," he said with a smile.
With the maturity he has shown this season, he can call it what he wants.