The Franchy Cordero experiment started off with a bang. After an impressive spring training with the Baltimore Orioles, he didn’t make the team and the Yankees snatched him on the cheap. In his first seven games in pinstripes, the lefty-hitting outfielder was hitting a cool .280/.333/.800 with four homers and a 208 wRC+. His 7.4 percent walk rate and 25.9 percent strikeout rate were much better than his career norms, particularly the punchouts.
Well, the regression monster is hitting Cordero really hard right now. His triple slash line is down to .186/.222/.488, and his 92 wRC+ tells us that his early-season success was a bit of a mirage. Since the Yankees didn’t really address outfield depth with quality offseason acquisitions in the offseason, they have been stuck with the likes of Cordero and Willie Calhoun. The organization’s inaction in the weeks and months prior to the season is really coming back to bite them, because thanks to injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and Harrison Bader they have been forced to feature one or both players most nights.
Both Cordero and Calhoun had shown promise in the past. The former can hit the ball really hard and far, while the latter was a top prospect back in the day. It looks like it isn’t happening for any of them in the Bronx, though. Cordero has been unplayable for several days now. His swinging strike and contact rates are starting to regress to his career norms. He has a 62.5 percent contact rate and a 18.2 percent SwStr% since April 13th, with a .111 OPS and a -83 wRC+ since that day.
For the season, he is sporting a 35.2 percent O-Swing%, which is the rate at which he swings at pitches outside of the zone. His career mark is 33.4 percent, so yes, he is expanding the zone quite a bit. He was making quite a bit of contact in the first few games of the year, but his contact rate is already at 68.5 percent, close to the 65.5 percent mark he has in his MLB tenure so far.
Perhaps most critically, the book is out on him: he still can’t hit breaking balls. His whiff rate against them this year is a mind-blowing 53.3 percent, and he has a .069 xwOBA against them.
Before Monday’s game, he hadn’t walked since April 10th and he didn’t have a single hit since April 14th. The Yankees have no choice but to include him in their rotation for the time being, but it’s mainly their own fault for failing to bring in at least one proven outfielder before the season.
Cordero and Calhoun might have had some untapped potential in theory, but they were, or are, anything but proven. The Yankees knew before the season that outfield was a position to reinforce, and chose to ignore it.
Perhaps Cordero could adjust back if given an extended chance, but he has gotten them in the past, with other teams, and hasn’t done much with them. The Red Sox, for example, gave him 275 plate appearances last year, and he mustered the same 92 wRC+ he is currently sporting for the Yanks this year (before Monday’s game). We are getting close to the moment in which the Yankees need to make a move of some kind, because the on-field performance just isn’t there.