The San Diego Padres have enjoyed the unexpected success of outfielders Jose Pirela and Franchy Cordero in the wake of several injures early in 2017.
In the Padres’ victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, Clayton Richard’s gem of a pitching performance (8.2 innings, 8 hits, and 2 runs) led the news, but Jose Pirela and Franchy Cordero helped get the offense going to support the veteran. In fact, in just a few games the duo at the top of the order have brought a new energy to the lineup.
Richard started the game with three up and three down. In the bottom of the first Pirela singled, and Cordero, Wil Myers, and Yangervis Solarte kept the line moving with consecutive base hits resulting in a two-run lead. Pirela went 2 for 5, and Cordero added two home runs helping the Padres to a 6-2 final score.
Pirela appeared in 15 games for the Padres last year, playing second and in the outfield. Originally signed by the New York Yankees as an international free agent, the Venezuelan was traded to the Padres in the offseason in 2015, non-tendered after the 2016 season and re-signed to a minor league contract by San Diego in December of 2016.
Before being called up on June 6, Pirela slashed .331/.387/.635 with a 1.022 OPS with the El Paso Chihuahuas in the hitter-friendly PCL. In a very small sample size at the big league level, he’s thrived in the leadoff position and put up these strong numbers: .441/.513/.713.
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He currently leads all active position players for the home team with a 0.8 WAR. Right behind him in that category, Cordero has a 0.7 WAR. Just by way of comparison, Myers has a disappointing 0.3 with far more games played.
Cordero’s journey to the Padres has been more direct than Pirela’s. Signed in 2011 by a front office led by General Manger Jed Hoyer, he originally played shortstop. Thanks to erratic fielding at that prized position, he moved to the outfield in 2016.
According to John Sickels of SBNation, he’s proven to be “a natural flycatcher, showing excellent range and throwing ability with 60-grade speed and a 60-grade arm that work well in center field.” He’s a plus runner on the base paths too.
With the caveat that the duo has played very few games so far, the Padres’ offense just has a different feel to it when Pirela and Cordero bat first and second in the order. So far, they’ve brought a new energy and excitement. As the team hits the road for games against the Brewers (in first place in the National League Central) and Cubs (in second place in that division with a .500 record), we’ll see if they can continue to spark the offense.