A new Yankee power bat? Cordero extends homer tear

April 12th, 2023

CLEVELAND -- About two hours before the first pitch of Monday’s series opener against the Guardians, Yankees manager Aaron Boone raved about Franchy Cordero, saying that Cordero’s talent would keep him in the Yankees’ lineup for the foreseeable future.

A day later, Cordero’s talent was on full display, as Cordero’s three-run home run helped lead the Yankees to an 11-2 win over the Guardians on Tuesday at Progressive Field.

“He’s been big for us,” Boone said after the game. “He hits them like the big boys. He mis-hit that ball, and [it still] went out.”

The home run was just another day at the office for Cordero, who has provided some much-needed depth to the Yankees’ lineup.

A seven-year MLB veteran who spent Major League time with the Padres, Royals and Red Sox, Cordero was stuck in the baseball wilderness in March, when the Orioles granted him his release after he didn’t make their Opening Day roster. The Yankees pounced, signing Cordero to a one-year Major League contract the day before Opening Day. And he hasn’t stopped hitting since.

After a tough outing on Monday, Cordero jumped all over Guardians starter Hunter Gaddis in the third inning, launching the first pitch he saw a Statcast-projected 368 feet into the right field bleachers to extend the Yankees’ lead to 6-2. It was his third homer in his past four games.

A former top prospect with the Padres, Cordero’s power was always there (he has one of the hardest-hit home runs in Statcast history), but the toolsy outfielder never seemed to put it together in any of his previous MLB stints.

That hasn’t been the case so far in New York, as Cordero has been a key piece for the Yankees over the past two weeks. He has made the most of his chances created by injuries to Harrison Bader and Josh Donaldson.

“You never want injuries, obviously, but it creates an opportunity for some guys to carve out a role for themselves while guys are down,” Boone said. “It gives you a better idea of what you have going forward.”

Cordero is now batting .286 on the season with three home runs and a team-high 10 RBIs despite only playing in six games. He had eight home runs and 29 RBIs in 84 games with the Red Sox last year.

“It’s amazing,” Cordero said. “It’s amazing to be able to contribute. I’m really happy with the results I’m getting right now.”

Prior to this season, Gerrit Cole had faced Cordero five times, all of which came last season. While Cordero had only been able to record one hit off Cole (a double), the pitcher was always cognizant of Cordero’s power. That power helped Cole on Tuesday, as Cordero’s home run backed his strong start.

“He’s a good dude,” Cole said of Cordero. “Great vibes, plays hard, lays the wood. It’s been fun to watch.”

Cole continued his mastery of the Guardians with seven strong innings on a night in which he didn’t have his best stuff. After Cleveland tagged him for two runs in the first four batters of the game, Cole settled in thanks in large part to his knuckle curve. After only throwing the pitch 8% of the time through his first two starts, Cole threw it 23% of the time with an 18% whiff rate.

“I had a good feel for the breaking ball, so I just rolled with what was good,” he said.

Cordero wasn’t the only new face to make some noise in the Yankees’ big third inning, as Willie Calhoun (who was playing in his second game with the Yankees) tied the game on an RBI single. The Yanks took a 3-2 lead a batter before Cordero on a sacrifice fly from Oswaldo Cabrera.

From there, Anthony Rizzo helped put the game away with RBI singles in the fourth and sixth innings.

“Hitting is contagious, especially with our group,” Rizzo said. “It just takes one guy to get us going.”