Before the season even got underway, the Padres were down a man, as left-handed hitting outfielder, Alex Dickerson, was having back problems that would cause him to miss the beginning of the season. Here we are nearly three months later, and it appears Alex Dickerson may not play this season at all. Along the way, the Padres have also suffered further outfield injuries, first to Travis Jankowski and then to Manuel Margot. However, both those guys are on the mend and could be back before the end of the month, or at least before the All-Star break.
With those two guys’ imminent returns, the Padres could once again be faced with an outfield logjam, and an even bigger one than they were faced with going into the season. Since the injuries to Margot and Jankowski, the Padres have mixed and matched a bit in the outfield. While Hunter Renfroe has been mostly entrenched in right, there have been a wide variety of players cycled in and out of the other two positions, from Allen Cordoba and Matt Szczur, to the newer additions, Franchy Cordero and Jose Pirela. While Cordoba and Szczur have cooled off a bit after hot starts, Cordero and Pirela have been setting the world on fire. That trend continued on Wednesday afternoon as the Padres were going for a sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, and a premature end to the 5-win ticket plan.
After a leadoff home run from Jose Peraza off the up and down Jhoulys Chacin, the Padres found themselves in a quick 1-0 hole in the first inning. However, after yet another solo home run, this time by Joey Votto in the 4th inning, the Padres would respond in the bottom of the sixth inning.
After a leadoff single from Yangervis Solarte, Hunter Renfroe stepped up to the plate. You know how this story ends.
On a 1-0 count, Renfroe got a pitch he liked and absolutely crushed the ball, driving it 433 feet with an exit velocity of 112.4 mph. In a season filled with hard-hit balls from Renfroe, this ball was just shy of Renfroe’s max exit velocity this season, 113.7 mph.
The game would remain tied until the bottom of the very next inning. After Michael Lorenzen came in and walked the first two batters on eight pitches, the man himself, Franchy Cordero, stepped into the batter’s box. And he did not disappoint.
After one home run and two hits on Monday night, and two home runs and three hits on Tuesday night, Cordero put up yet another multi-hit effort on Wednesday afternoon, leading the Padres to a third straight victory over the Cincinnati Reds. After an insurance run on a Hunter Renfroe groundout, Brandon Maurer came in and shut the door on the Padres’ third straight win.
All in all, it was yet another strong victory for the Padres, once again thanks in large part to the efforts of Franchy Cordero, who has been perhaps the most surprising story of the entire Padres season.
After his 17th game with the Padres, Cordero is now slashing .339/.383/.625 with a wRC+ of 165, which leads the team outside of Jose Pirela, who is also off to a very strong start. Sure, Cordero has struck out in over a third of his plate appearances, 22 strikeouts over his first 60 PA, but he is more than making up for that with both his offensive ability and his play in the field.
Despite only playing in 17 games, Cordero has provided almost a full run of value both on the bases, 0.7 BsR, and in the field, 0.8 DEF. Beyond that, Cordero is showing a strong batted ball profile, as he is consistently making solid contact, with less than six percent of his batted balls falling into the soft hit category. This jives with his Statcast numbers, as Cordero has an average exit velocity of 92.4 mph, which places him 13th in all of baseball among players with at least 30 batted ball events. This number will obviously fall slightly as the season progresses, but if Cordero can keep a hard hit rate over 90 mph, he should be able to maintain quite a bit of success.
Perhaps most important for Cordero, he is showing himself to be an all-fields hitter, as over 23 percent of his batted balls go the other way, while 41 percent go up the middle, and just 35 percent are pulled. This is a good profile to have for a young hitter, as he is able to utilize all fields to his advantage. It remains to be seen what kind of player Cordero will be as the season progresses, but at least for now, he looks like someone to get excited about. Even with the imminent returns of Manuel Margot and Travis Jankowski, Cordero has done more than enough to earn himself continued playing time. The Padres will have to figure out some things in terms of doling out playing time, but that’s certainly not a bad problem to have.