AL EastAnalysis

Franchy Cordero is Good

The Franchyse is here kids.

It was a rocky start to Franchy Cordero’s Red Sox career. Getting traded for a fan favourite in Andrew Benintendi and then posting a 32 wRC+ with a .071 ISO in 48 games doesn’t necessarily endear you to a highly critical fanbase.

He did croak the piss out of that one ball though.

He split time between the big league club and AAA Worcester during his first year with the Sox. He mashed the ball in triple-A, but couldn’t find his swing in the big leagues. All this while being forced to learn first base, a position he had never played at any level in his career.

Despite the Major League struggles, there was still some hope to go along with untapped potential. Even coming into this season as a 27 year old, there was still some mild excitement around his role in 2022.

He started the season off in the Minors. After a .931 OPS down there last season, and a .913 OPS through the first month this season, there was a mixture of intrigue and concern – concern that maybe he was just a quad-A bat at best.

Luckily for Franchy, incumbent first baseman Bobby Dalbec got off to an ugly start this season after a torrid stretch at the end of 2021. Dalbec struggling, along with the bench bat of Travis Shaw providing no value, opened the door for Cordero.

He was called up on April 29th and proceeded to go 0/4.

Nice.

Thankfully, it has only gone up from there. Immediately, the impact that was noticeable was his patience. He had a career low 5.9 BB% last year, and although the walks this season weren’t there at first, the patient approach was.

He cut down his first pitch swing rate, and quickly began going 5-6 pitches in most of his plate appearances. His 9.5 BB% he sports now is the highest it’s been in any season of his career in which he’s posted more than 50 PAs. His 22.6 K% is not only down 15%(!) from last year, but also the lowest of his career.

A guy with raw power like Cordero has was bound to start running into balls, but this approach at the plate was the start he needed to contribute and get himself into the lineup on a consistent basis.

The King himself (AP Photo)

Now the everyday starter at first base against righties, he’s 84 plate appearances deep and the numbers have been great. Both on the surface and his peripherals.

His 123 wRC+ has been very welcome in the bottom third of a lineup that had been bringing almost nothing to the table. His .343 wOBA is solid but his .394 xwOBA ranks in the 92nd (!) percentile in all of baseball.

He’s been hitting the ball harder this year than he did last year, his launch angle is way up, and still only has 2 homers (5.0 xHR, though). His xSLG is in the 94th percentile, which should mean even more extra base hits are on their way.

Some other numbers that show this hot start should be sustainable: He’s 90th percentile in Quality of Contact, 91st percentile in Sweet Spot%, 86th percentile in Barrel Rate, 12.3% in Barrels which is 2nd on the Red Sox (behind Devers, obviously) and 72nd in Outside Zone Chase Rate (h/t the homie @redsoxstats on Twitter for some of these).

Now, he’s still about 10 games away from officially qualifying so you won’t be able to find him on Statcast. But the fact that he has a decent sample size, and has put up great numbers on the surface coupled with even better numbers in his peripherals, is insanely exciting.

The Red Sox offence has started to click in the last few weeks and Cordero getting hot has been a big part of getting the lineup turned over with some runners on base for the big boys.

Realistically, he shouldn’t be hitting 7th in this lineup and a move up to 5th or 6th is certainly due (and inevitable to come).

Editor’s note: He’s hitting leadoff tonight (Wednesday), we win.

Now I’m not expecting you to read all of these nerd stats, but what’s important here is the arrows on the far right. Almost every stat you want to see an upwards arrow beside, there is one. And all the stats you want to see a downwards arrow?

Golly, there is one.

All the numbers say Cordero has been good, and is going to be even better as he continues to get PAs. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s moved to an outfield platoon with JBJ and/or Verdugo when Casas gets called up. Whether that’s later this year or next year, Franchy has forced the team to find a way to keep his bat in the lineup.

Okay well, I’ve rambled on for a long time about a guy who’s at best the fifth best hitter in a nine man lineup, so I’ll wrap this up with a few other quick points.

First, it’s worth noting that putting him at a position in which he isn’t natural at, hasn’t been costly. He only has -1 DRS and -1 OAA at First in over 100 innings. I don’t care about First Base defence anyways so that’s cool, we take that.

Secondly, he is such a vibe man. Last year, when Sox players would get on base they would wave back to the dugout.

Every time.

Apparently, even in his short time in Boston in 2021, it was Franchy who started it. The guys loved it.

Now in 2022, the wave is retired. Enter, the bat break, something he has created as well.

I couldn’t find a single video for this online (do better fellow Red Sox Twitter members) but it’s awesome. Guys get on base, turn to the dugout, and motion like they’re snapping a twig in half between their hands.

That probably wasn’t the best visualization, so you can watch any Red Sox game and see it literally every hit, but the point stands. He’s an absolute vibe, the dudes love him and he seems to be a great personality to keep spirits up when things might not be going well.

Thirdly, I need a reason to post his walk-off grand slam again.

Hansel Robles was super not chill for blowing this game with 2 outs in the ninth, but then it led to a walk-off grand slam with 2 strikes and 2 outs in extras. So we all forgave him because that moment was cool as hell. Probably the most fun one of the year and maybe the hardest I’ve ever celebrated a game in May against a sub-.500 team.

If you ever want to talk Franchy, Red Sox, anything baseball, or sports as whole. Come find me on Twitter @JohnMPrincipe

John Principe

Writer, Editor and Social Media Director at Diamond Digest

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