There’s an old adage that says to only worry about things in your control.
That might be getting tougher by the day for Royals outfielder Franchy Cordero … especially after his first eight plate appearances with the Royals.
Cordero, who was acquired before the season in a trade with San Diego, has had a quiet statistical start so far. He’s had one hit in seven at-bats, with a lackluster .536 overall on-base-plus-slugging-percentage in that small sample.
Dive a little deeper, though, and it sure seems that Cordero has deserved better.
And probably even a lot better.
MLB’s Statcast measures “expected batting average,” which uses exit velocity and launch angle to calculate how likely it is for each batted ball to turn into a hit.
And based on that, Cordero has not only been unlucky — he’s been in territory all his own when it comes to major-league hitters.
Though Cordero’s actual batting average is .143, his expected batting average — based on his batted ball profile — is .515. Among players with more than one batted ball this season, the difference of .372 between his expected average and actual production is the highest mark in baseball this season.
One can also break it down this way: Cordero’s expected average on each of his seven batted balls has been .620, .570, .430, .530, .500, .750 and .210. That means in five of his seven plate appearances, Statcast would tell us he should have had at least a 50% chance of reaching on a hit, with only one of those results going his way.
So what has that looked like? Here’s a quick view.
I’ve compiled three of Cordero’s outs this season — the ones with the top expected averages where he made an out — and followed them with clips of similar exit velocities (EV), launch angles (LA) and spray directions by other players that resulted in hits. This gives us some context into what might’ve happened to Cordero’s batted balls had they not been redirected right at fielders.
Cordero: 111 mph EV, 2 degree LA (.620 expected average); Roberto Perez: 112 mph EV, 2 degree LA (single)
Cordero hits this ball squarely, but it’s at the second baseman. We can see from Perez’s example how quickly this type of ball gets through the infield if a defender is not in perfect position.
Cordero: 109 mph EV, 2 degree LA (.570 expected average); Jonathan Villar: 108 mph exit velocity, 2 degree LA (double)
Another example of an “at-’em” ball. It’s difficult for a hitter to control spray angle, but if Cordero pulls this ball a little more, he’s likely to end up with a double just like Villar did.
Cordero: 69 mph EV, 33 degree LA (.750 expected average); Jorge Soler: 68 mph EV, 33 degree LA (single)
Even the bloops aren’t going Cordero’s way. This type of contact — three-fourths of the time — falls for a hit in that no-man’s land between the infield and outfield. The Tigers’ Cameron Maybin got a great jump on Cordero’s contact, though, while we see an earlier example from current Royals teammate Jorge Soler that fell for a hit last year.
The sample is still limited here, but it’s important to look at process over results. While Cordero might get frustrated when seeing his stats on the scoreboard, the truth is he shouldn’t be changing much about his approach, as with a little better fortune, he’d be among the top hitters in the majors.
Statcast provides some context here too. Cordero’s expected wOBA — an offensive stat that seeks to determine a hitter’s overall skill based on quality of contact — is first on the Royals and also 10th in the majors among all players who’ve put at least five balls put in play.
Some patience, then, is likely to be rewarded.
If Cordero keeps doing what he’s done, the law of averages is all but certain to turn around.
The Royals should give Cordero every chance to see if he can keep up this batted-ball profile.
While having faith that — so far — Cordero’s done an admirable job with the most vital aspect of hitting: the part that is in his control.
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