Red Sox: Franchy Cordero is walking his way into more playing time
Franchy Cordero is finding ways to get on base for the Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox have had trouble scoring runs this season. Of course, you can’t score a run without first getting on base, which is one area where Franchy Cordero is proving himself useful.
At first glance, it may seem that Cordero is struggling to produce enough to stick in the big leagues. His batting average sits at an underwhelming .233. Cordero is known for his prestigious power but he’s still searching for his first home run and his .300 slugging percentage would put him near the bottom of the league if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. His bat will need to contribute more or Cordero could find himself on the bus back to Triple-A Worcester.
There is one area that Cordero is thriving in though and it’s when he isn’t swinging the bat. Cordero has drawn six walks in 37 plate appearances. He has walked at least once in three of the last four games that he started, including a career-high three-walk game last week against the Atlanta Braves.
Cordero owns a 16.2 BB% that ranks seventh in the American League among hitters with 30+ plate appearances, per FanGraphs.
His penchant for drawing free passes has been a welcome addition to a Red Sox lineup that ranks 29th in the majors with a 6.7 BB% this season.
He isn’t going to be competing for a batting title but his strong walk rate has boosted his on-base percentage to a healthy .351, tied with Rafael Devers for third on the team (minimum 10 plate appearances).
Forget the low batting average. Cordero has only struck out six times and his 16.2 K% would be the best of his career. He owns an above-average 40% Hard Hite rate. He’s due for some positive regression in the batting average department and we’re already seeing it rise with three hits in his last two starts.
We know the power potential is there. According to Baseball Savant, Cordero ranked in the top 1% of the league in max exit velocity last season, as well as in 2018, his only other season with meaningful playing time at the major league level. He needs consistent playing time to unlock that power.
Cordero won’t get the opportunities he needs if he’s an automatic out near the bottom of the order. As long as he’s getting on base, he warrants a spot in the Red Sox lineup.
The question is whether or not this habit of getting on base is sustainable. That’s difficult to project since Cordero has never been given extended run in the majors. Everything in his career has been a small sample.
His walk rate at Triple-A has been over 12.0% for the last two seasons, which would place him inside the top-20 qualified AL hitters this year. He probably won’t maintain his current BB% but he can still be well above average even if he regresses toward his Triple-A rate.
The Red Sox need hitters who can get on base. Boston is 26th in the majors with a collective .290 OBP. Four of their regular starters have an OBP that ranks in the bottom-21 among qualified AL hitters. That isn’t even counting Bobby Dalbec‘s putrid .238 OBP since he doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify.
Cordero could get more playing time at the expense of Dalbec, especially against right-handed pitching. If he continues to show impressive plate discipline by limiting strikeouts and drawing walks to get on base at a high clip, Cordero could finally have a path to sticking in the big leagues.